It has been a rough season for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Led by Marc Gasol, the team had playoff aspirations entering the 2017-18 NBA season. But the team was decimated by injuries, its talent level fell off and the organization fired head coach David Fizdale just 19 games into the season. The Grizzlies now have an 18-45 record, competing with the Atlanta Hawks and other cellar-dwelling squads for the top spot in the upcoming draft.
But for basketball fans in north Fulton County, there has been a bright spot. One of the area’s natives has emerged for the Grizzlies as an unexpected and key contributor.
Kobi Simmons, just 20-years-old, made his first NBA start on Monday for the Grizzlies in a two-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The graduate of Alpharetta’s St. Francis High School tallied 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block in 26 minutes of play.
Simmons connected on a few mid-range jumpers, a three-pointer from the left corner, a few layups in traffic, and threw down a one-handed dunk on a feed from JaMychal Green.
At St. Francis, Simmons was a McDonald’s All-American who led the team to two state titles and scored more than 2,400 points in his career there. He left Alpharetta for a scholarship offer at the University of Arizona. He helped take the Wildcats to the Sweet 16, where they lost to Xavier.
The two-way contract limits a player to just 45 days on an active NBA roster, so Simmons has spent most of this season playing with the Grizzlies’ G-League team, the Hustle. After Simmons signed the contract, he bought his mom a Range Rover.
In 16 appearances for the Grizzlies this season, Simmons is averaging 5.2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per-game, according to basketball reference.
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