One year ago if you asked any casual NBA fan about the name Jonathan Simmons you wouldn't get a response. No one knew who he was. One year ago Jonathan Simmons had no money to his name, in fact, he was borrowing money to pay for numerous things in his life including his daughter's diapers. One year ago Jonathan Simmons couldn't afford lunch for himself. Fast forward one year later and Simmons has just played one of the best games on his career for the championship contending San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs.
He is now a vital part of the Spurs rotation and with Kawhi Leonard being out for game 6 of the NBA playoffs in the second round against the Houston Rockets, boy did Simmons step up to the challenge.
Simmons shot 8 from 12 from the field, 18 points and added 4 rebounds as well. His play highlights exactly what the NBA D-League was created for. The D-League is the developmental league in the NBA, a player who team feels as though they could use some more development or practice before playing on the main roster can spend a period of time in the D-League. Simmons, of course, tried out for the D-League, paying a $150 registration fee. He now is going to make a lot of money this offseason.
“Simmons decided to give the game one last try, which led to the tryout at Concordia University in Austin, Texas, with San Antonio’s D-League affiliate, then nicknamed the Austin Toros. For a $150 tryout registration fee, Simmons got another chance to show the Spurs organization what he could do.
The tryout went well enough that the Austin Toros immediately invited him back for a weeklong tryout session, and he eventually made the opening-night roster. Austin Spurs GM Brian Pauga told the Spurs’ official website, “It didn’t take long to see he was head and shoulders above the others in that tryout.”
It feels extraordinarily fitting that Simmons is a Spurs player, seeing that the coach Greg Popovich seems to have a talent for creating superstars out of the most unlikeliest of players. This is a credit to both Coach Pop and the Front Office in San Antonio that Simmons has evolved into what he is today, a great offensive player with an explosive leap, and he's not too bad on defense either. We all know about the greatest Spurs big 3, Tony, Manu and Timmy. Tony was taken 28th in the draft while Manu 57th. Amazing how players so slow can become one of the most dominant trios in NBA history. But it isn't just them, Kawhi Leonard, Simmons teammate was taken 14th in the draft by the Pacers before being traded to the Spurs. Kawhi now is an MVP candidate and one of the world's best players.
Simmons played his first game last year for the San Antonio Spurs at the age of 26, now 27 he has played a totally of 78 games this season along with 8 NBA starts, averaging just over 6 points a game. Truly showing his importance in his role on the Spurs bench. In an interview with ESPN, Simmons once said "It wasn't until after my first year in the D-League where I really got comfortable enough to feel like someday I’m going to be a big part of this team. I know what I can do." Not only does Simmons have great confidence in himself, but a truly great guy. Coach Popovich had nothing to say but high praise from Simmons development as a player.
No story of another player taken higher or lower is great as Simmons. He wasn't drafted at all. He went to 3 different colleges and had to pay to play. His story truly sets a great example of someone wanting more than life to play basketball, that they would stop at nothing until they made it. And Jonathan Simmons did. His contract at the end the season will be a trophy for himself, a great showing of how far he has come.