This offseason, the Blazers have the potential to do something very special. Already establishing themselves as an offensive powerhouse and with several players entering their primes, the Blazers Starting Five are set to offensively dominate for the next 5-7 years. By adding a bench this offseason, the Blazers will finally be able to take the next step forward in becoming a legitimate contender.
However, I believe it essential that the Blazers not only work on building their bench but also towards finding a Sixth Man to compliment their Starting Five. As a Sixth Man, this player needs to be able to compliment each member of the Starting Five while also supporting the bench in multiple roles.
For this reason, it's my belief that the Blazers should draft Kyle Anderson from UCLA.
As a facilitator:
Kyle Anderson will be able to handle the ball in a Mo Williams type role. Unlike Mo, however, he won't be dribbling for 5 seconds before hoisting up a shot. Furthermore, his high school/UCLA games indicate that he will facilitate the ball to teammates at a very successful rate (7.8 Assists per 40 ranks 1st amongst Top 100 players).
His court vision is already outstanding enough that he can find players from across the court. This is beneficial to lengthy guys like Aldridge or Batum who can run down the court before opponents notice it (3:54 in the video).
Likewise, his ability to pass while in the post (4:36) remains crucial to the likes of Lopez/Aldridge and guys like Robinson who like to streak in for a dunk/layup. If you've been watching the Spurs offense against Miami this year, they've been implementing passes just like these.
Similarly, he's able to drive and dish the ball to shooters. This would benefit Lillard, Batum, McCollum, and Mathews tremendously.
KA is unique in that he can play 4 different positions. What this does for the Blazers is it adds depth at four positions while saving the Blazers money.
Think of a 6'9" Kendall Marshall with a superior jump shot and better length. He defies positional boundaries and has been compared to Boris Diaw or Jalen Rose in terms of his lengthiness and all-around game. With his length, he can compliment Aldridge, Batum, and Lopez. With his ball handling skills, he can serve as a primary or secondary ballhandler/facilitator to McCollum or Lillard.
One needs not look far to see that players who defy positions have experienced recent successes in the NBA as of late:
As Part of the Offense:
A major problem I saw this year was the difference in the way the bench utilized Coach Stotts motion offense versus the starters. Simply put, the bench lacked the proper ball movement that would've given them easy/open shots. They either overpassed and missed the open guy or underpassed and took ill advised shots. You'd rarely find them utilizing passes within the post or drive/kicks.
Thus, Anderson would serve as the missing link between bench and starters as his skillset would improve the facilitation of the motion offense for both the bench AND the starting unit.
Furthermore, he contributes to the motion offense by being a fairly decent catch and shoot player. And his 3pt FG% sits at a solid 48%. Like Aldridge and Batum, his long arms will also make his shot tough to block.
Likewise, his long arms also give him an edge in rebounds. He's very much like Kevin Love in that he has a knack for grabbing defensive rebounds without using too much athleticism (7.5 defensive rebounds). This is a HUGE plus if the Blazers want to run (we have the personnel to do so).
Anderson's lack of athleticism makes him very inefficient on the defense end. He'll often let players blow by or not switch on the correct player.
Still, his defense can be improved. He'll never be Mathews or Batum on the defensive end but with the right adjustments, Anderson can become a solid help defender. He's lengthy enough that he already averages 1.8 steals and .8 blocks at the college level. He's also smart as a player and approachable as a person. This makes it easier for coaches to try to improve his overall game.
Despite his skinny/lanky frame, Kyle Anderson has one of the higher body fat % for his size. While not exactly helpful, this is not exactly a bad thing in the long term.
For one, this indicates that he's built like a marathon runner. This means he'll be able to withstand the grind and tear of the NBA for a LOOOOONG time.
Furthermore, this is a good base to have in terms of fitness. A lot of professional runners will develop a slow, aerobic base before building up through speedwork. I think with proper nutrition and weight training, Anderson can savor the benefits of both longevity and atheticism.
What do Boris Diaw, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard have in common? Not only have they played crucial roles to the Spurs playoff run this year. They are long, lengthy, multi-role type players who work within the system.
I don't think Anderson can succeed on most NBA teams. He needs a 50+ win type team to showcase his skills. That means the Blazers....who are looking for depth and a player who can work in their system. According to several mock drafts, Anderson should fall somewhere in the late teens to mid twenties. This is high enough to where the Blazers can trade for or buy a pick.
Rumors indicate OKC, the Hawks, the Clippers, and the Spurs are also interested in Kyle Anderson. I'd prefer that the Blazers have him than these guys.
To them, he'd be just another exciting young player in their system (playing behind Durant/CP3/Leonard/etc) but to the Blazers, he'd excel in as the sixth man on a team that clearly needs depth.