D’Marcus Simonds is a 6’3” junior combo guard for the Georgia State Panthers who recently hinted at his intent to forego his senior season and enter the 2019 NBA Draft. This didn’t come as all that much of a surprise, as many had expected the dynamite scorer to enter the 2018 NBA Draft after being named the Sun Belt Player of the Year and garnering a fair amount of draft buzz. While his efficiency clips and draft momentum may have taken some hits this season, Simonds was still a First Team All-Conference selection, led his team to a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, and has an intriguing combination of athleticism and skill that, in conjunction with his ultra-competitive mentality, will give him a chance of eventually sticking at the NBA level.
Tale of the Tape
Powerful, Athletic Strides
Simonds has the combination of size, strength, ball skills, and athleticism to play either guard position at the professional level. A particular area of his game that this athletic profile functionally manifests itself is as a dynamic driver.
Simonds has powerful lower body strength and uses it to his advantage as he navigates his way from the perimeter to the restricted area. Though there is certainly room for improvement with his handle, he has a solid single-move handling package that gets his defender leaning one direction, and an explosive first step to blow by his defender’s hip. He stays low to the ground and takes long, purposeful strides to maintain his leverage advantage en route to the rim. He typically only needs two to three steps to get from the three-point line to the rim while taking only one dribble to cover 18-20 feet of ground.
This season, Simonds ranks in the 48th percentile as a rim-finisher in the half-court by converting at a 1.109 PPP clip. There is certainly room for improvement with Simonds’ touch and selectiveness as a more disciplined driver that picks and chooses his spots, but Simonds’ athletic flashes at the rim are promising if he’s able to tune up his decision-making.
While the length of his strides is an impressive aspect of his driving ability, Simonds’ ability to vertically explode following dynamic euro-steps or finesse footwork makes him an even more versatile, dangerous finisher. His transition from varying horizontal momentum to quick upward lift is nearly impossible for defenses to react to without fouling.
Below, we highlight Simonds’ ability to use his lower body strength and quick-twitch athleticism to finish at the rim.
This facet of Simonds’ offensive game is his most directly translatable skill. His athleticism at his size/position will give him a chance to be a strong driving threat at the next level, especially surrounded by shooters with a more well-spaced floor. If he can complement this skill set with a more consistent jumper that defenses must respect, it’ll open up even more opportunities for him to excel as a driver.
As noted above, Simonds is a plus-athlete that makes functional use of his lower body strength and quick-twitch burst as a finisher.
When he gets past defenders and has the time to gather, he is one of the most vertically explosive two-foot jumping lead guards in college basketball. He is an exceptional above-the-rim finisher that not only can quickly rise up as a straight-line driver, but is also a high-level cutter through traffic and lob-catching threat behind set defenses. Simonds’ overall finishing numbers aren’t particularly efficient, but his two-foot finishes are particularly impressive on tape and he clearly maintains strength better throughout his finishing attempt when initiated with a two-foot gather.
Below, we will highlight his two-foot finishing ability.
This ability to powerfully rise up and finish above the rim off of two feet is functional in a variety of situations, but Simonds could stand to improve as a one-foot finisher. One-foot gathers are typically more fluid and allow a driver to quickly get to the rim without sacrificing as much speed/momentum as a two-foot gather. Simonds has certainly shown impressive flashes as a one-foot finisher, but could stand to become a bit more consistent with his attack angles and touch when finishing at the rim off of one foot.
While, in retrospect, he may have been best served to have entered the 2018 NBA Draft at the apex of buzz as an up-and-coming prospect, Simonds remains an enticing prospect with high theoretical upside. As a likely 2019 NBA Draft early entrant, Simonds will likely garner a fair share of workouts with teams, wherein it will be critical that he showcases to teams that he’s a more projectable shooter than his statistics indicate at first glance. Simonds projects to land a spot on an NBA Summer League roster and potentially find himself in a prominent scoring role in the G League. Simonds’ confidence, competitive drive, and perpetual chip on his shoulder will give him a very good chance of earning NBA call-ups, 10-day contract opportunities, and an eventual shot at an NBA roster spot if the jump shot comes around.
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