The Cleveland Cavaliers will likely have the ninth pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft in the first round on June 26th. Today, we profile UCLA forward Kyle Anderson. Click here for more draft profiles.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Kyle Anderson
Honors: 3rd Team All-American (Associated Press and Sporting News), 2014 All-Pac-12 first team, 2013 All-Pac-12 second team, Most Outstanding Player: 2014 Pac-12 Tournament
2013-2014 Per Game Stats: 14.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 48 percent shooting, 48. percent shooting from three, 73.7 from the free throw line
A true point forward, Anderson’s fit in the NBA has been a subject of debate among draft analysts throughout his sophomore season. A gifted passer with amazing court vision, Anderson is also a terrific rebounder and greatly improved his shooting in his second season at UCLA. However, concerns about his ability on the defensive end, as well as his lack of elite athleticism have Anderson all over draft boards, where his range seems to be anywhere from the middle of the lottery to the early second round.
Anderson possesses good height at 6’9” and great length with a 7’2” wingspan, but that’s where the positives of his physical tools end. He lacks elite athleticism and quickness (his nickname is Slow-Mo), and also needs to add strength to compete in the NBA, particularly on the defensive end. Anderson doesn’t seem quick enough to guard perimeter players or strong enough to guard power forwards in the NBA. One of the things most scouts worry about is who a prospect can guard at the NBA level. Anderson has not answered this question, which negatively affects his draft stock. While his lack of speed and athleticism are less of a concern on offense, one has to wonder if he will be as successful on that end when constantly guarded by elite athletes.
Anderson’s combination of passing, shooting, and rebounding all work to make him an offensive force. He uses his length and court vision to make excellent passes to teammates, often starting fast breaks after a rebound and before the opposition can react. Anderson’s passing is good enough that he could potentially be seen as a 6’9” point guard by some teams. Anderson was also able to score in a multitude of ways this season, shooting over 48 percent from three as well as 48 percent on two-point attempts. Anderson was also able to get to the free throw line over five times a game, shooting just under 74 percent from the line. His skills on the offensive end allowed him to post a 24.7 PER and a true shooting percentage of 56.6 percent this season. Whatever team drafts Anderson must be willing to put the ball in his hands to get the most out of his talent, His hree-point prowess, however, makes it possible to visualize him as a stretch four who could spot up from the outside while playing off the ball.
Most scouts’ worries with Anderson competing in the NBA are on the defensive end. No one is sure who he will be able to guard, and because of that no one is sure what position he will play. Anderson isn’t quick enough to guard perimeter players and isn’t strong enough to defend the power forwards or even larger small forwards at the NBA level. A defensive-minded coach (Mike Brown?) should be able to find a way to use a player with Anderson’s length I.Q. on defense. If he understands positioning and help defense, he should be able to avoid being a complete liability in terms of team defense. Individually, he may need to be hidden on weaker offensive players. On the plus side, his length and feel for the game do allow him to generate a decent amount of blocks and steals, and he is a solid defensive rebounder as well.
Anderson is known for both his high basketball IQ as well as his court vision. Some draft analysts feel that Anderson may see the floor better than any other player in the draft, including highly ranked point guards such as Marcus Smart and Dante Exum. Because of this, some teams feel that he may be able to play the point guard position. Teams love big point guards, and Anderson being able to see the floor by simply looking over the opposing guard is an intriguing idea. Anderson’s work ethic was also evident in college as he made significant improvements in nearly all areas of his game from his freshman to sophomore seasons. This same work ethic may help him improve on the defensive end, at least to the point where Anderson can be an effective team defender.
Anderson has been compared to both Lamar Odom and Boris Diaw. There is some merit here as both men are gifted passers (particularly Diaw) and solid rebounders (much more Odom than Diaw) who don’t fit the profile of traditional forwards in the NBA. There are some noticeable differences though. While Anderson has become a solid shooter but remains a poor defender, Odom has never been a great outside shooter, but has been solid on the defensive end. Diaw has been better from deep (particularly over the last few years), and it has taken him most of his career to become a solid defender, but he is more of a power forward/center type of player, while Anderson probably is more of a tweener forward like Odom.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
The idea of Anderson playing for the Cavaliers is intriguing. On a team that needs more outside shooting and often has the ball stick on offense, Anderson’s combination of passing and shooting seem to make him a good fit. On the other hand, would any potential Cavaliers coach be willing to put the ball in his hands? This would mean, at least to some extent, taking the ball out of the hands of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, something that seems unlikely to happen. Anderson’s issues on the defensive end also make him a poor fit on a team with few strong individual defenders. Even if the Cavaliers’ front office likes Anderson, it’s hard to imagine them taking him ninth ahead of someone like Doug McDermott, who has similar questions about his defense. What someone McDermott has working for them is that they are likely a much better fit on the offensive end alongside Irving and Waiters than Anderson.