This is the 14th in a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: Kyle Anderson of UCLA.
KYLE ANDERSON, UCLA
6-foot-8, 230 pounds
HIS STORY: The most unique prospect in this year’s draft is Kyle Anderson. He has a point guard's game in terms of his vision, passing and basketball IQ, but the body of a small forward. His nickname is “Slow Mo” because of his remarkably slow pace of play, but you can't deny his effectiveness. He truly doesn’t have a position and new UCLA coach Steve Alford didn’t try to force him into just one role, showcasing his do-it-all game with 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. Anderson’s understanding of the game and ability to run a team are in large part due to his time at St. Anthony High School, learning from Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley. Anderson was a terrific high school player, but Hurley pushed him on both ends of the floor and demanded excellence from him. That foundation has provided a great base for Anderson to continue to develop as a two-way player and we saw it come together last year, as he led UCLA to the Sweet Sixteen before being ousted by Florida.
HIS STRENGTHS: Anderson is an efficient, effective stat stuffer. He shot 48 percent from the field last year and 48 percent from the 3-point line (only 58 attempted, though). Given his nickname, he never blows by anyone but uses his body exceptionally well on the perimeter and in the post to get by defenders. He’s a crafty finisher around the rim but an even more impressive passer. He commonly completes passes that no one else on the court will even attempt. He was 22nd in the country in assist rate last year at 34.3 percent, according to kenpom.com. He uses his 6-foot-8 frame with 7-foot-2 wingspan to great effect on the glass, as well registering a defensive rebound rate of 25.5 percent (28th in the nation, according to kenpom.com). He also has very good hands and anticipates well on the defensive end, generating a lot of steals (1.8 per game) and deflections.
HIS WEAKNESSES: His lack of athleticism has always been, and always will be, the big question. Going into college, people wondered how he would guard quicker players and if he’d be able to create on offense. He answered those questions emphatically, but that was just the college level. He’ll have to prove himself at the next level all over again. He has a long frame and has put weight on at UCLA, but will probably need to add more muscle mass. At times he will be guarding power forwards and will need to match their physicality.
IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? Anderson has already worked out for the Celtics and all reports were positive. He could be there at the 17th pick, and, if so, I think this will be a tough decision for Danny Ainge. Players with Anderson's skill level, IQ and all-around game don't come around often. That said, Anderson is a risk: His game may not be nearly as effective at the NBA level. There will be other players at 17 that are more known quantities, but they may not have the potential upside and breadth of impact that Anderson could have. If the Celtics take a gamble on Anderson, I wouldn’t be surprised. But one thing is for sure, they can’t miss on this pick.
COMING ON TUESDAY: Tyler Ennis of Syracuse.