Justin Simon has been impressive for St. John’s, a player who has been able to contribute in every facet of game on court.
There’s a lot to say about St. John's lead guard/ undersized shot blocker/ defensively baddest motherf[Shut your mouth!]/ ace three-point shooter/ lead rebounder/ jacker of all the trades —
Seriously, what is Justin Simon NOT doing on the floor?
The Temecula guard has come close(-ish) to a triple-double on three occasions, whipping out a game that, at times, looks like it can be everything on the court. While having a guard be the team’s best rebounder is a cause for concern, the rebounding rate is legitimately competitive; over a full season, rebounding 20% of opponent misses individually would be better than any Red Storm player last season.
That said, Simon is still a work in progress, or scratching the surface - whichever line you prefer.
Simon’s games included 11 turnovers in his time at the Advocare Invitational, and not just “the team is discombobulated” turnovers. Simon was guilty of leaping in the air before seeing his pass, of trying to push perhaps too hard in transition, of making a pass without recognizing the defense knew where the ball was going. If he is going to often be the lead guard, he needs to improve, distribute, become a conductor on the fast break.
His interior shooting is not as smooth or crafty as his teammates LoVett and Ponds (a high bar); it would help if the team had generated more run outs, where he can get above the rim and dunk.
And his sub-50% free throw shooting is a small sample - especially given his ability to connect from outside the arc - that bears watching.
These are correctable flaws, especially when given a player who plays hard, sticks to his man on defense, and has been arguably the team’s best on-ball defender.
He can improve. And there is a lot to work with; he has strong skills and tools to hone, and once he reduces mistakes Simon will create more on-court impact
Plus he blocked Tacko Fall. Never forget.
By the numbers
Best game: vs Nebraska, 13 points (5/10), 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, 4 steals, 3 fouls
Leaderboards: 1st in the Big East in total rebounds; 1st in total steals; 5th in defensive rebound percentage (21.5%), 2nd in total turnovers committed (17).
Justin Simon is averaging nine points per game, nine rebounds per game and four assists per contest. While on the court, opponents are scoring 78 points per 100 possessions, far and away the stingiest number for any of the Red Storm players.
We would be remiss in not also talking about how Simon, thought to be an unwilling outside shooter who could be a liability, is currently 5/5 from outside the arc. That perfection is great to see.
On the other hand, his forays into the paint have been less successful. He’s scored 43% inside the arc and 47% from the free throw line.
But Simon, finally getting full ruin on the floor, has been an impact player for Chris Mullin’s squad, allowing Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett to hunt for their shots, taking on the opponent's best defender, and at least so far, being a bad, bad man.
Can he keep this up? Will he improve on his early season excellence?