Kobi Simmons was sent back down to the G-League on Thursday after spending a month with the Memphis Grizzlies, but the rookie from Alpharetta may have a role with them going forward.
Simmons, a 2016 graduate of St. Francis, played well over the span of 10 games with the team while starting point guard Mike Conley and other key players nursed injuries. One fan blog declared “It’s Kobi time in Memphis.”
The 6-foot-4 north Fulton County native had his best game against one of the NBA’s best teams on Dec. 30, when he poured in 17 points, three assists and two steals against the powerful Golden State Warriors.
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Simmons will get more playing time and a chance to develop on Memphis’ G-League team, the Hustle, but it’s clear he’s destined for the parent club.
“He brings a spark,” Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff told the Commercial Appeal. “He’s got a natural talent that we’ve got to do a great job of developing. He can help us. We’ve got to make sure we’re keeping him around, teaching him and letting his natural tools take over.”
The 20-year-old Simmons signed a two-way contract with Memphis as an undrafted free agent, meaning he can only spend a maximum of 45 days with the Grizzlies, and the rest of his playing days must be spent with the G-League. But that could change if Memphis offers him a long-term NBA deal.
With the Grizzlies this season, Simmons is averaging 3.6 points, one assist, 1.6 rebounds per game, according to basketball-reference. Over 13 G-League games, he’s averaging 15.3 points, 3.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.
“I just try to stay ready when my name is called,” Simmons told the Commercial Appeal. “I’m excited to get out there and compete with the guys. I always stay prepared on the bench to do my job.”
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Here’s how other players from north Fulton County are doing in the NBA this season:
Malik Beasley (St. Francis): In his second season with the Denver Nuggets, the 21-year-old is coming off the bench and is averaging 3.3 points per game. His best game this season came on Dec. 8, where in a win over the Orlando Magic, he posted 12 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Lorenzo Brown (Centennial): The Roswell native has spent most of this season in the G-League, but was called up to the Toronto Raptors recently to provide some depth in the wake of an injury to Kyle Lowry. In a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, Brown notched six points and five assists in 19 minutes of play.
Jaron Blossomgame (Chattahoochee): A second round pick by the San Antonio Spurs, this rookie has spent this season with the team’s G-League affiliate in Austin. There, he is averaging 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per-game. The former Clemson Tiger has yet to make his NBA debut.
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He played at Texas only one season, but Kevin Durant has always considered himself a lifelong Longhorn. Now, he’s giving back in superstar fashion. Durant will make a record-breaking $3 million donation to the UT basketball program and the university’s Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation, the school announced Thursday. It’s the largest gift ever by a former Texas basketball player. $2.5 million of that going straight to the basketball program.