NBA Draft 2020: Why Cole Anthony doesn't fit Warriors' win-now timeline

NBA Draft 2020: Why Cole Anthony doesn't fit Warriors' win-now timeline

Editor's note: As the Warriors prepare for the 2020 NBA draft, during which they will have a lottery pick for the first time since 2012, NBC Sports Bay Area will present a twice-weekly series spotlighting two players expected to be evaluated. This is the sixth of a 12-part series over the next six weeks.

NBA teams are continuing to take unusual steps to prep for the 2020 NBA Draft during the coronavirus pandemic. As we get closer to draft night, North Carolina guard Cole Anthony follows the trend of talent, early-entrant prospects who likely will be long-term projects.

While he averaged nearly 19 points in his lone collegiate season, Anthony shot under 40 percent for a team that finished last in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Additionally, he committed 3.5 turnovers per game, while nothing just 4.0 assists as a lead guard. Through his first nine games, he was just 6-of-21 at the rim. Along the way, he missed nearly two months after undergoing surgery to repair partially torn meniscus in his right knee.

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Son of longtime NBA guard Greg Anthony, Cole had a winning reputation growing up.

During his freshman year at Archbishop Molloy High School, an opposing coach called him the most skilled New York basketball player since Stephon Marbury. As a senior at storied Oak Hill Academy, he averaged 18.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 10.2 assists per game, becoming the first player in school history to average a triple-double. By the end of 2019, he was named Virginia's Gatorade Player of the Year and a McDonald's All-American, becoming one of the top recruits in his class.

Following a subpar year at UNC, Anthony is benefitting from a weak NBA draft class. Anthony is heralded as a great ball-handler, but his high turnover numbers seem to crush that theory. His lack of size also is an issue, which allows opposing guards to overpower him on a nightly basis. Simply put, he'd probably be better served to stay another year in college if his draft class weren't so weak.

Anthony's game follows a similar trend from other top guards in this class. Like fellow guards Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball, Anthony has shot below 30 percent from 3-point range against subpar competition. Unlike Ball and Edwards, Anthony's lack of size meals a lower ceiling for his game. Anthony has the ability to overcome his shortcomings, but it will take a dedicated staff to help the guard reach his potential.

His fit with the Warriors would also be tricky. He'd be a project upon arrival for a team still hoping to contend for titles. Historically, Golden State hasn't successfully developed players during their championship runs, with recent examples including Jordan Bell and Patrick McCaw. Bell had a strong start to his first season, before veering off his path and struggling to get on the court before he bolted to Minnesota last summer. McCaw also regressed in his second season after looking like a consistent contributor as a rookie.

Aside from Draymond Green, only Kevon Looney has been a consistent homegrown draft pick for the Warriors in the postseason since 2015. Last season, rookies Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall showed promise in the final months of the year, but that was for a team not expected to play well into June. For a team with Finals aspirations, Anthony may not be fit for the future iteration of the Warriors.

[RELATED: Ranking Warriors' NBA Finals teams since move to Bay Area]

Cole Anthony profile

Position: Point Guard
Class: Freshman
Birthdate: May 15, 2000 (19 years old)
Hometown: New York, NY
2019-20 season averages: 18.5 points (38.0 percent FG, 34.8 percent 3-point, 75.0 percent FT), 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.3 steals.
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 190
Wingspan: 6-foot-3.5
What they’re saying:  “Basketball is what he loves and I mean loves. Capitalize every single one of those letters. He’s going to blow people away in the individual workouts and his commitment to the game, his commitment to being a better player and his commitment to his vocation in there is where very few people have ever had it." - North Carolina coach Roy Williams

NBA rumors: Warriors' offseason plan unaffected by drop in salary cap

NBA rumors: Warriors' offseason plan unaffected by drop in salary cap

The Warriors always were going to be a tax-paying team next season, given that Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins will combine to cost approximately $120 million against the salary cap. That was back when the cap was projected to be around $115 million -- back before the NBA experienced an unprecedented shutdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

With games not being played and arenas not in operation, the salary cap for the 2020-21 season is going to be negatively impacted. The resulting loss of revenue is expected to significantly lower the cap, perhaps by as much as $15 million. Consequently, tax-paying teams will get a much larger bill.

Logically, many of those teams might try to cut costs this offseason, or at the very least, limit additional expenditures, particularly those that don't necessarily view themselves as legitimate contenders. It remains to be seen where the Warriors will view themselves in that hierarchy, but as tempting as cuttings costs might be, it sounds like they are motivated by a different priority.

While Golden State certainly could entertain a number of cost-saving moves -- such as not using the full value of the tax-payer mid-level exception or the $17.2 million trade exception in free agency, or trading back from one of the top picks in the draft -- the lowering of the cap reportedly is irrelevant to the Warriors' offseason strategy.

"Golden State is unlikely to let a drop in the cap change how it approaches roster-building," the San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau wrote Saturday, citing a league source. "[Joe] Lacob realizes that with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all in their early 30s, the Warriors might only have a three- or four-year window to win another title.

"Even if it requires a massive luxury-tax burden, Golden State will do what it can to capitalize on the rest of its core players’ prime years. Anything else would go against what this ownership group has come to represent."

[RELATED: Warriors get great news about $17.2 million trade exception]

Since Lacob and Peter Guber bought the team in 2012, the Warriors haven't shied away from spending large sums to put a championship-contender on the court. With Curry, Thompson and Green still in their primes, it's easy to understand why they might feel comfortable doing so again.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Ex-Warrior Kevin Durant talks recovery from coronavirus, Achilles tear

Ex-Warrior Kevin Durant talks recovery from coronavirus, Achilles tear

June 11, 2019 was a date that forever altered Kevin Durant's NBA career. After missing the first four games of the NBA Finals with a calf injury, KD returned to the court for Game 5 in Toronto but tore his Achilles' tendon in the second quarter. The Warriors would go on to lose the series in six games to the Raptors, and Durant departed this past summer in free agency for the Brooklyn Nets.

While sitting out the 2019-20 season, KD became one of the first NBA players to test positive for the coronavirus in March. Durant recently caught up with The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears to discuss his recovery from both injury and illness.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"I was shocked. And then I was curious," Durant said about getting the coronavirus diagnosis. "I wanted to know what it meant. What is the virus about? I started to get information about it more and more. It calmed me down. … I was just more curious to what I was dealing with and how I could fight it myself.

"I feel good. I didn’t have any symptoms so I am good. I couldn’t leave the house. I knew things would change. The unknown was definitely difficult to deal with. But other than that, I was great."

The NBA suspended operations on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive. The league is returning to action in late July in Orlando with 22 teams completing the regular season and playoff schedule.

Durant's Brooklyn Nets are among the teams returning to the court this summer, but he maintains that he will be sticking with his initial plan to sit out the entire 2019-20 season.

"My season is over. I don’t plan on playing at all," Durant said. "We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season."

[RELATED: Why Warriors could benefit from unique 2019-20 NBA season calendar]

When it comes to the rehabilitation from that Achilles' tear, KD says things are on the right track for a return to the court next season.

"I’m doing well. Working out every day. I’m moving. I’m feeling like a normal player again. I’m just in my summertime routine. I’m working out every day and going to the gym in the morning. So, I feel good."

Kyrie Irving and Durant together at 100 percent on the court in Brooklyn could make for a dangerous combination.