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COLE ANTHONY: THE MOST UNFAIRLY SCRUTINIZED PLAYER IN THE 2020 NBA DRAFT

@TheWillBaldwin

I’m willing to die on the mountain for Cole Anthony. Maybe I’m biased as a UNC fan, maybe I just have to much love for the way he goes about his business but I am a firm believer in Anthony’s NBA prospects.

We spend so much time trying to find guards who can create their own shots and burn endless assets for them (see Bucks, Milwaukee) yet, here is Anthony projected by many to not even go in the top 20. 

I just do not get it.

Listen, Cole has concerns but so does every other prospect in this draft. He is being penalized for more things and with more impact than any other guy and I just don’t understand the reasoning.

People question his shot selection, over-reliance on his jump shot and poor shooting percentages all fairly but then act like that isn’t the exact same problem with LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and many others. I wouldn’t take Cole top five but the fact that has somehow resulted in him sliding completely out of the lottery for many is beyond baffling. 

Frankly, if you take RJ Hampton over Cole Anthony, that’s a firable offence in my book. 

The difference between Anthony and projects like Hampton for example is that Cole has a ton of ready-made NBA skills. 

In his bag, Anthony has a series of stepbacks, sidesteps, jabs and cross over dribbles that extend his shot creation range well beyond the three-point arc. Despite his poor two-point percentage, Anthony managed to shoot 35 per cent from deep on over six attempts game, rarely not creating his own looks for himself. 

What people gloss over is the fact of how bad the UNC team Anthony was on was. He was quite literally the only player on the roster who you were comfortable with him dribbling more than twice. Because of this, he was essentially forced to create anything and everything for the entire team. 

A lot of the time he did force things, there’s no way around that. But only penalizing him for that ignores the obvious context that if it wasn’t him then who exactly was it going to be on this UNC team? 

If we’re honest, I loved that he kept shooting and attacking. This guy was on a terrible team and yet he fought to the bitter end of every game. 

There are multiple guys with major mental red flags and I can assure you, Cole Anthony isn’t one of them. 

Anthony is the kind of person who injured his meniscus on a bad team that was decimating his draft stock. Literally, no one would have blamed him if he shut it down for the draft. That’s not the kind of guy he is though. 

Anthony is a hooper in every sense of the word and those are the kind of guys I want to go into the foxhole with. No one will ever question if he loves the game and that matters. 

You see it in how hard he plays. On offence, he’s always in attack mode which at times can be to his detriment. Defensively, he’s tenacious on the glass, especially for a guy who’s just 6’3 and can hold his own guarding anyone. With his explosive athleticism and competitive streak, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he developed into an elite defender in the NBA as he showed signs of it throughout his time at UNC. 

The way he’s constantly attacking reminds me of a young Kemba Walker, particularly in how crafty he is in getting to his pull-up with side steps and step backs. For him to get to Walker’s level in the league, he needs to improve his middle game as that’s what really cost him at UNC. 

His floater is inconsistent and his midrange jumper leaves a ton to be desired with how his jumper shot looks and the fact he’s already a good three-point shooter. If he can make some small tweaks in and around the elbow, there’s no reason he can’t dominate there as Walker has for years.

I understand Cole isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Score first guards can be frustrating to play with at times and need to be in the right spot to excel fully. 

But, that doesn’t mean Anthony isn’t still an elite prospect, well worthy of a top ten selection.

As a fan of his though, I hope he falls. Anthony on a playoff level team like Miami, Philadelphia or Dallas would be special. I assure you, Cole is a lot of things but afraid of the biggest moments is certainly not one of them. 

Some people will call this scouting report a risk and to them I say, I trust my eyes more than those of others. What I see when I watch Cole Anthony is a player with the potential to be something special, regardless of how his UNC season did or didn’t go. 

I am firmly on the Cole Anthony Mountain, excited to see what happens next.

Scouting Report

Stats:

SeasonSchoolConfGGSMPFGFGAFG%2P2PA2P%3P3PA3P%FTFTAFT%ORBDRBTRBASTSTLBLKTOVPFPTS SOS
2019-20UNCACC222034.96.015.7.3803.79.3.4022.26.4.3484.45.8.7500.55.25.74.01.30.33.52.918.510.05

Projection:

  • A score-first guard who in the right spot can develop into a potential all-star (best case)
  • An off the bench lightning rode capable of changing the pace and is great in the locker room (worst case)

Player Comps:

  • Kemba Walker- An undersized score-first guard who has been able to have an outstanding career due to his knack for getting to his spots and creating good shots for himself and others. 
  • Jamal Murray- An outstanding scorer off the pick and roll with the ability to pull from pretty much anywhere on the court.
  • Mike Conley- A really adept user of screens who despite not being the best passer is able to win at a high-level from his scoring and defensive abilities. 

Strengths:

  •  Footwork on pull-ups, stepbacks and sidesteps are all NBA ready
  • Can create his own shot anywhere on the floor
  • Explosive athlete 
  • A winning, competitive mentality that never shows any signs of fear or lack of confidence at all
  • An underrated defensive player with solid upside 

Weaknesses

  • Court vision needs to improve
  • Shot selection was poor and forced regularly
  • Midrange, in-between game leaves much to be desired
  • Injury history that has to be mentioned
  • At times is over-confident and needs to be settled down

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