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.
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.
Cole Anthony profile
Position: Point Guard
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.
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