With the 2015 NBA Draft fast approaching, we look at some of the players who may be available for the Portland Trail Blazers at the number 23 selection. Up today is Justin Anderson.
Anderson was a three-year player for the Virginia Cavaliers, though only a true starter during his junior season. He spent his first two seasons with the Cavaliers trading hot spots for cold streaks, and often found himself buried on the bench. Everything changed in his junior season when he matched his potential with his performance, vastly improving in virtually every statistical area. A 6'6 shooting guard/small forward combo, he combines a 7 foot wingspan with a solid 231 pound base.
1) Solid defender. Anderson has a terrific combination of size and quickness. He has the lateral speed to match faster players, and a solid enough core to fight off opponents in the post. While his defensive stats will not wow you (he averaged under a steal and a block per game), he has the instincts to defend passing lanes while tracking his man.
2) Large shooting potential. Anderson turned a 40-42% shooting percentage in his first two seasons into a 47% percentage his junior year, and watched his three-point percentage skyrocket from 29% to 45%. He is also a solid free throw shooter to complete the offensive package. If these trends hold at the professional level, he will be a great fit for the Portland Trail Blazers offensive strategy.
3) Explosive athlete. Another fast-break ace with the skills to bring the arena to life with alley-oop finishers and runaway jams. Once he reaches top speed, his athleticism hits a new level.
1) Paying for the outlier. While a level of growth is expected at the college level, his numbers as a junior are so far out of line with his past numbers that some regression to the mean should be expected. Asking him to shoot 45% from three as a pro is certainly asking too much.
2) Not a passing threat. His ball control is iffy at best (he was not the setup man for the Cavaliers offense and still averaged almost two turnovers a game). He does not have the court vision to run an offense, and has a limited offensive skill set outside his speed and jump shot.
3) Panic is a problem. The second half in Virginia's Round of 32 loss to Michigan State is an example of an issue that plagued Anderson in his college career: when things start to go wrong, he tends to compound the problem by taking bad shots and trying to fight to the rim. With the Cavaliers trailing by four, Anderson scored on a driving layup, but missed the foul shot. On the other end, he allowed his man to get away from him for a three, and would later miss a three and commit a turnover on back-to-back possessions as the Spartans began to pull away. Anderson would finish the game 2-of-7 for eight points, 0-for-4 from three, 1 rebound, 0 assists, and 2 turnovers.
Floor and Ceiling:
His ceiling is an improved Monta Ellis, a solid defending guard who can guard larger players with no issues and can occasionally score in bunches.
His floor is Xavier Henry, a solid college defender who got lost in the pros and whose shooting never really aligned for him.