Prospect Examination: Kyle Anderson

Posted by Clevis Murray on Sunday, June 22, 2014 with No comments

He entered UCLA  with many High School awards—The Star-Ledger New Jersey Player of the Year (2012), 2× New Jersey Tournament of Champions (2011–2012), 2× New Jersey Non-Public B state title (2011–2012), Parade All-American (2012), McDonald's All-American (2012), Jordan Brand Classic (2012), The Star-Ledger All-Sophomore/Freshman third team (2009 and IS8/Nike Spring H.S. Classic Freshman of the Tournament (2009). All those were the achievements for UCLA sophomore Kyle Anderson, many were against him going pro believing he should've stayed another or all four but he decided to go against.

"Kyle is totally prepared mentally to come out,” Kyle Anderson Sr. said. "He knows he’ll have to get adjusted to the rigors and physicality of the NBA but mentally he’s always been a little more mature than the average age he’s at. His approach to the game right now is that of a person who knows this is going to be my job, this is going to be my livelihood."

Some may or may not know this but the reason why Anderson committed to UCLA over Georgetown, Seton Hall, Florida and St. John's is because of then Bruins head coach Ben Howland.  Howland had gained a respectable reputation for producing successful Point Guards in the NBA (i.e. Russell Westbrook, Jordan Farmar, Darren Collison and Jrue Holiday) but under Howland, Andersen played Power Forward.  UCLA would eventually fire Howland due to lack of wins and disciplinary action against Reeves Nelson and replaced him with Steve Alford.  The coaching changed led to Anderson being switched to a position that he was more accustomed to playing.....the position of point guard.

Anderson struggled his freshmen year since he also played with the lone senior on the team Larry Drew II, who transferred to UCLA after being with North Carolina for the previous three seasons. Despite his struggles as a freshmen he was able to win All-Pac-12 second team (2013) and Pac-12 All-Freshman team (2013).

Kyle Anderson's father Klye Anderson Sr., a longtime basketball coach in New Jersey felt "offended" when Howland played his son as a front court player since he wanted his son to be a Point Guard since he was the years old. It's not the first time his father has been upset with the position his son played, back in High School he was played as a Shooting Guard and was upset by that.

When Alford took over the coaching reigns he must've been jubilant with joy as his son had the opportunity to play the position he was groomed to play since his childhood. Alford said, "He's very unique. A 6-9 point guard that facilitates the way he can. He's a nightmare to match up with."

Looking at his stats:

Freshmen year - 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.9 blocks and 1.8 steals while shooting 41.6% (FG%), 21.1% (3P%) and 73.5% (FT%) in 29.9 minutes of action.

Sophomore year - 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.8 steals with his shooting being 48.0% (FG%), 48.3% (3P%) and 73.7% (FT%) in 33.2 minutes.

The improvement is evident from season-to-season with Anderson and in his sophomore campaign he was a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, Naismith College Player of the Year, John R. Wooden Award, and Bob Cousy Award which is awarded annually to the best Point Guard in the nation. He didn't win that award but was named to the Associated Press third team All-American (2014), Sporting News third team All-American (2014), All-Pac-12 first team (2014), NABC first-team All-District 20 (2014), USBWA first team All-District IX (2014), Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player (2014) and Las Vegas Invitational Most Valuable Player (2014).

On November 22, 2013, Anderson had 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists which was the first triple-double by a UCLA Bruin since Toby Bailey in 1995. He was suspended on January 27th due to violating team rules and also became the only PAC-12 and Division 1 player in history to have 500+ points, 300+ rebounds and 200+ assists in a season. 

Anderson has gained the nickname "Slow-Mo" due to his lack of speed with his 6'9" 230-pound frame. If he wants to play Point Guard in the NBA then he will need to slim down this summer, having that nickname is a very bad thing because most players in the association are fast enough at their respective positions and there are huge question marks as to what position Anderson will play and whichever team drafts him will experiment with his talent and body during the Summer League. Anderson obviously also lacks later quickness (should've put more effort into defensive sides) and will become a defensive liability against his opponent as he is also missing athleticism and strength. His offensive stats make him look lottery material but watching him play on the other-side of the court make him a late or 2nd round pick; to be fair he did have a defensive rating of 95.4 which was ninth in the conference and win shares of 206 which is good enough for sixth in the PAC-12.

"His strengths outweigh his negatives," An NBA scout said. "Very skilled, perimeter shooting has improved and can rebound. Lack of defense and pace of game can be hidden by a good team with defensive concepts. Could end up being a Top 15 pick."

In the NBA he will struggle with creating his own shot as he lacks the explosiveness and athletic ability to do so. His jumpshot is decent for now but isn't a reliable weapon which will lead teams to sag off of him and treat him like Rajon Rondo, daring him to shoot. But since the Point Guard spot is a position he might play then he will mainly be judged on his leadership skills as we will be picked apart as to how well he can run a team as the floor general. The 20-year old needs more guidance to play the one position as he averaged 3.1 turnovers per game.

Kyle Anderson is one of the most intriguing players in the draft this year as he is great two-way player, but the thing with him is that he has height of Small Forward/Power Forward, weight of a Small Forward but the skills of a Point Guard. It's quite clear that he doesn't have clear cut position but is a basketball player and will be utilized someway somehow. When you think about it, Anderson will become one of few "Point Forwards" in the NBA joining LeBron James, Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant. I'm not saying he'll be as good as though players because he doesn't have anything close to the talent they posses.

"He’s a big guy and I’m not for sure what position he would be in the league, I’m not sure he could play the point," New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler said. "But just like the kid out of Syracuse is showing, Michael Carter-Williams, showing that big guys can still play the point and still have a place in this league….It just depends on how [Anderson] continues to develop."

The pre-draft workouts will be crucial to Anderson's draft stock as many scouts are confused on him as a player and worried about his negatives more than his positives. The best thing for him is to get drafted low in the draft to a team with a identity and is accustomed to winning because going to a losing team would hurt his career before it even began. Sorry Dick Vitale but he isn't the next Magic Johnson, Royce White is the most realistic comparison for Anderson.

"I honestly don’t see him lasting more than a few years in the league," an NBA scout said. "though I’ve talked to other scouts that really like him. I just think his offense will take a step back once he gets to the NBA, and his inability to defend is really going to hurt him."      

NBA Comparison: Royce White

Best fits: Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors