The Utah Jazz got one step closer to finalizing their training camp roster, inking veteran center Henry Sims. While this appears to be a simple, low-key camp invite, there may be a bit more to Sims than meets the eye.
First, who is Sims? The 6’11”, 248-lb big man hails from Baltimore and was a four-year player at Georgetown. He played very little his first two seasons, but assumed the back-up center role his junior campaign. As a senior, in a starting role, he tallied 11.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.4 BPG. Despite his solid showing, Sims went undrafted in 2012. He went to training camp with the New York Knicks, but was cut just days before the regular season commenced.
Sims toiled in the D-League with the Erie BayHawks and eventually made his NBA debut in 2013, while on a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Hornets. After a jaunt over in the Philippines, Sims began his NBA career in earnest. He got his feet wet with the Cleveland Cavaliers before spending 1 1/2 seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers1. Yes, this was during that horrific run for the hapless Sixers, a run which finally may be winding down. Even so, Sims took advantage of the opportunity. In 26 games that season, he put up 11.8 PPG (48.9 FG%) and 7.0 RPG in 27.2 MPG2. Because Philadelphia’s front court depth improved, Sims’ playing time dropped during his second season there. Even so, he chipped in 8.0 PPG and 4.9 RPG, playing both big positions. While it may be a case of putting up good numbers on a bad team, he showed he could contribute at an NBA level — even if just as a back-up big.
When Philadelphia drafted Jahlil Okafor, the writing was on the wall for Sims. He failed in a bid for a spot on Jeff Hornacek’s Phoenix Suns team and was once again relegated to the D-League. Sims got another chance with the Brooklyn Nets, signing in March and finishing the season there.
On the floor, Sims has some offensive game. In his full season with the Sixers, he showed he could finish inside at a decent clip (62.3 percent), thanks to a nice jump hook. Nearly 40% of his shots came outside of 10 feet, where he displayed good touch (40.9 percent on 10-15 feet and 43.4 percent on long 2s3). He is active and is quite mobile. Sims gets to the free throw line (.336 FTr), where he connects on 77 percent for his career.
Sims gives a good effort on defense, using his 7’4″ wingspan to his advantage. While not a shot blocker, he can play good position defense. He is an okay rebounder who sometimes gets pushed out. Perhaps the facet of his game that might interest Jazz fans most is his passing. At Georgetown, he was one of the nation’s best passing big man. He can find the open cutter, which would certainly be welcomed in Jazz head coach Quin Snyder’s offense.
What are his chances with Utah? Well, whatever transpires, it’s clear the Jazz like him. During his time, general manager Dennis Lindsey has been very calculated in all his moves. If a guy is brought in for 10-day pact, a workout or to training camp, it is because Lindsey and his crew have done their homework. There is familiarity here with Sims. Besides playing for the Jazz’s summer league entry in 2012 and attending a 2013 mini free agent camp, he was brought to town just two weeks ago. Since then, the Salt Lake City Stars acquired the returning player rights for Sims. And now, there is this training camp invite. The Jazz want to take an extended look at Sims, and at a minimum, training camp will give them the opportunity.
Sims was brought in to compete, with back-up center Jeff Withey and rookie Joel Bolomboy. While Withey’s contract this season is not guaranteed, he played well last season, especially when Rudy Gobert went down. At the veteran’s minimum, a guy with Withey’s elite skill — shot blocking — is a steal. Bolomboy’s contract has a nice guarantee, especially for a guy plucked late in the second-round. Utah seems high on the hard-working rookie. So, it is an uphill battle for Sims. But stranger things have happened. If Sims has a good showing, it could make things interesting for the Jazz’s decision-makers. Would they value his skill sets (an offensive track record in the NBA, passing) over what Withey and/or Bolomboy bring to the table? The likelihood is low, but that’s why teams desire a competitive, intense training camp — to let the best players emerge.
So, while the Henry Sims signing appears minor in nature, how he does in training camp and the preseason will be another storyline to follow.