Is Jonathon Simmons worth pursuing for the Houston Rockets?

San Antonio Spurs Jonathon Simmons (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs Jonathon Simmons (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
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With the injury bug hitting the Houston Rockets early in the season, could they have a use for Jonathon Simmons in their rotation?

The Houston Rockets have gotten off to a fast start, winning 11 of their first 15 games. Due to a sudden influx of injuries, however, the team is having to get by with their starters playing heavy minutes. James Harden is playing 36.7 minutes per game, which is tied for fourth in the league, while Russell Westbrook is playing 33.2. 34-year-old P.J. Tucker is having to play a career-most 34.7 minutes per game.

Injuries to Gerald Green, Eric Gordon and Danuel House have forced players like Ben McLemore to play a bigger role than expected, which has had mixed results. Mike D’Antoni has a tendency to run his players for extended minutes, which could eventually lead to some guys burning out too soon in the season. Looking at potential relief at the guard position, is Houston-native Jonathon Simmons worth looking at as an option?

The Case for giving Simmons a chance

Jonathon Simmons has yet to find a home after a relatively successful season with the Orlando Magic followed by a brief, disappointing stint with the Philadelphia 76ers. He got his start when Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs took a chance on him in 2015 after he impressed in the Las Vegas Summer League.

In San Antonio, Simmons averaged 13.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and three assists per 36 minutes, showing up in a total of 133 games. The 30-year old upped those numbers as a more primary option on the Magic, averaging 15.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per 36 minutes. In 15 games for the Sixers last season, he shot a career-high 42.9 percent from downtown and upped his assists to 5.4 per 36 minutes.

With Jonathon being 30-years-old, gambling on him would be low-risk and high reward. He still played with energy and hustle for the 76ers last season, however, he couldn’t quite crack the rotation on a talented squad. It couldn’t hurt to give him a shot if he’s still capable of doing things like this:

Jonathon Simmons with the SWAT on @NBAonTNT! #NBARapidReplay https://t.co/oNuKGqbxUr

— NBA (@NBA) October 26, 2016

The Case against Simmons

While the reason for Simmons leaving the Spurs was due to him outplaying his rookie contract and earning more of a payday with Orlando, his last stint with Philly and subsequently being traded to the Washington Wizards isn’t a good sign. The fact that the Wizards waived Simmons in July is even worse.

Jonathon had a lot of bright moments in San Antonio and Orlando, but his latest run with Philadelphia left a lot to be desired. He still put up some okay numbers in his limited minutes but did little to make a lasting impact in his time on the court. His ability to slash to the basket and be successful in those ventures just wasn’t there last season.

The Verdict

All in all, there are other options out there such as Jamal Crawford or Corey Brewer that might fit in a little bit better with Houston’s style of play. Simmons is a career 31.7 shooter from downtown, so couldn’t be relied upon to make his share of Houston’s league-high volume of 3-point attempts.

Still, though, Simmons has proven himself before, most notably by even making it to the league in the first place after paying $150 one day just to get a G League tryout. If Jonathon shows the work ethic and hustle he’s had in the past, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on an NBA roster again this season.

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If Houston continues to need guards to deal with their piling injuries, Jonathon wouldn’t be the worst option by a longshot, but he also isn’t quite the best.

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