Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons will undergo surgery for a UCL tear in his right thumb and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks, the team announced Friday in a press release.
The injury occurred during the season-opener, in which Simons scored 18 points in a 123-111 loss to the Clippers. When the initial injury report came out, Simons was listed as ‘Probable’ and then ‘Questionable’ with a right thumb sprain, however, later an MRI revealed a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb.
This will be a setback to a young Blazers team, as Simons was expected to be the successor to Damian Lillard, and proved himself in a breakout year last season by scoring 21.1 points per game. Notably, in 11 games without Lillard last season, Simons averaged 27.9 points, 5.7 assists, and 2.9 rebounds.
The 24-year-old has developed into a sharpshooting scoring threat, with a career 38.7% average from three-point range, and has high aspirations for himself heading into this season.
Simons’ new role with the team, following the blockbuster offseason trade, was highlighted in an interview with Jason Quick of The Athletic, “I don’t want to think too much about it, but at the same time, I have a sense for what it means,” Simons said. “Now I’m up in that pecking order, so there is a sense of confidence that comes with that.”
Ensuring the required surgery, Simons should be available in late November or early December. In the meantime, Shaedon Sharpe and Malcolm Brogdon will see increased minutes during Simons’ absence and third-overall pick Scoot Henderson will have an opportunity to showcase his potential, as he will be pushed into an even bigger offensive role.