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Detroit should sign Kobi Simmons to a two-way deal

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Kobi is an exciting and talented player - even if he’s a little bit wild and green

NBA: Summer League-Sacramento Kings at Memphis Grizzlies Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Kobi Simmons is a 21-year-old, 6’5 point guard who secured 32 games (20.1 minutes per game) of NBA experience under his belt during his rookie season with the Memphis Grizzlies last year. Kobi went undrafted out of the University of Arizona in 2017, and not long after he signed a two-way contract with the Grizzlies, splitting time with the big club as well as their G-League affiliate last season.

After Summer League this year, Simmons was waived by the Grizzlies, making him a free agent. He’s still a free agent as of this writing — and has been recently working out with at least one NBA team with reports saying Simmons, along with several other free agents with NBA experience such as Tyler Ulis, Brandon Paul and Rodney Purvis, were involved in workouts with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end of last week.

Simmons had a decent 2018 Summer League showing, depending on who you read, yet his performance obviously wasn’t enough for Memphis to keep him in some capacity. He had one year left on his two-way contract prior to being waived.

The Grizzlies just drafted Jevon Carter and signed veteran Shelvin Mack, while already having Andrew Harrison and Mike Conley as the top two point guards on the roster. You could say there’s already a bit of a logjam at backup point guard there. For Memphis, Simmons just didn’t move their needle — he simply wasn’t a must-have prospect for the franchise moving forward.

The Pistons, however, have no such logjam, and Simmons would be a worthy risk as a development project.

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Kobi is a lanky, skinny guard prospect at about 170 pounds. That’s concerning. And he’s still quite inexperienced, only having one year of college experience at just 23 minutes per game (and less than stellar numbers in those short minutes). However, he’s quick, creative and has a scorer’s mentality. He’s shown he can hang some with the big boys of the NBA.

He’s just not a very polished player on either side of the floor - right now. He needs to find a franchise that has the ability to be patient with him, and see if his development progresses.

The Pistons already have rookie point guard Keenan Evans on a two-way contract, and have a couple other young guards on the roster just starting their NBA careers in Bruce Brown and Khyri Thomas. Then, of course, there’s shooting guard Reggie Hearn, who was signed to a two-way contract in January of last season. Until any move is made, it seems as if Hearn could have Detroit’s second two-way contract to start this season.

When thinking of Evans, Bruce Brown Jr., Khyri Thomas and Kobi Simmons, though, none of those players stick out to me at this point as head and shoulders above the rest, in terms of being more inclined to have the better NBA career. It’s a complete toss up right now. It’s quite possible Simmons ends up being the best player of the four.

Sure, we’ll know a bit more about these young guys in several months, but if Detroit thinks something is there with Simmons, then by all means consider him before another team sees Simmons’ potential and the opportunity passes.

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Last April versus Detroit, Kobi had one of his best games as a pro, totaling 20 points (four treys) and seven assists with just a single turnover. First things first — yes, it was meaningless April basketball between two crummy teams. However, for many younger players on both teams, especially for Memphis, there were future roster spots to play for. Second thing — Simmons is not an exceptional shooter (sub-40 percent from the floor in college, 42 percent from the floor in the NBA, and 43 percent from the floor in the G-League), but he looked comfortable and mostly fluid shooting the ball that game.

Kobi’s last two treys of the game were very confident hoists. His stroke from three doesn’t appear to be the most natural you’ll ever see, however, there’s something there to work with.

These three plays illustrate Kobi’s scoring instincts, shot making potential, and athleticism. And obviously I’m not here at this very moment to harp on any defensive miscues, such as missing an assignment, playing flat-footed or getting severely out-muscled; or any offensive blunders like laying bricks (again, Kobi is not a good shooter at this stage) and not being patient within the offense. Let’s remember, he’s only 21 and still has a ways to go in learning not only the NBA game, but his own game, too!

But let’s get to these three cherry-picked plays:

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a couple of unremarkable yet pretty revealing plays of Kobi patiently attacking the Spurs defense. Basically, Kobi wants to score the ball (always and forever) and is more than able to score the ball in a variety of ways, and as far as I’m concerned a player with his offensive potential — despite the shakiness of his outside shooting thus far — is someone not to overlook. At this point in his career, his positives outweigh his negatives, and I know an NBA team will be more than happy to try to unlock all of his potential.

I’m not sure if the point guard stuff will ever come to fruition for the guy. It could very well not matter much anyway, as speed and versatile scoring ability off the bench can be more than enough to have a steady NBA career.

The Detroit Pistons, if they haven’t already, should consider adding Kobi Simmons to the organization. He’s going to be in the NBA for a good, long time.