Former Arizona standout Miles Simon adjusting to different style in second year at Summer League
When you think of Arizona basketball, it is impossible not to think of Miles Simon.
Simon, along with freshman sensation Mike Bibby, were the anchors of the most successful team in program history: the 1997 squad that won the NCAA Championship. Simon won Final Four Most Outstanding Player after scoring 54 points in the two games before graduating the next season and embarking on a successful playing career that lasted five seasons.
Since his playing days ended, Simon has become one of many former ‘Cats that have moved to the ranks of coaching, currently an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and head coach of their Summer League team in Las Vegas.
This summer in particular has been difficult for Simon and the Lakers after their successful run last season. After going 6-1 and losing in the championship game last year, their roster has been void of much of their young talent due to trades and injuries. The results have shown, with the team going 2-3 so far between the California Classic and Las Vegas.
“I think one thing is trying to get them all to play together at all times,” Simon said following their loss Friday night to the Chicago Bulls. “When it’s a lot of free agents out there, they’re trying to fight for jobs. Whether in the NBA, the G-League or overseas, there’s kind of a fight for money sometimes because there’s so many scouts from around the world here. So far, our group has bought in and embraced the team mentality and show the best of themselves.”
The losses and lack of star power on the roster is new to the Lakers and Simon, as the last two seasons they have been must-see viewing, between Lonzo Ball and the hype surrounding his debut two seasons ago and the rise of Josh Hart on his way to Summer League MVP last season.
While the change was different for Simon, he caught a glimpse of what the hype is like from the outside Friday night, as the debut of Zion Williamson immediately followed the Lakers' loss to the Bulls. With stars such as LeBron James and Floyd Mayweather in attendance, there was an energy in the arena that felt like years past to Simon.
“It reminds me of the buzz for us last year,” he said. “Especially two years ago when we had Lonzo, Kuz, J Hart. Last year we come back as the defending champs and we had just got LeBron, so the buzz was crazy for the Lakers.”
The Lakers have two games remaining in Las Vegas, with the top eight teams being seeded into a tournament. The teams that do not qualify will each play a consolation game, with each team guaranteed at least five games and as many as seven.
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