The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...
2020 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Cole Anthony
Team: North Carolina
Age: 19 (turns 20 May 15)
2019/20 stats: 22 G, 34.9 mpg, 18.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.3 bpg, 38.0 FG% (6.0/15.7), 34.8 3PT% (2.2/6.4), 75.0 FT%
Player comparison: Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 6th, Sports Illustrated 15th, Ringer 12th, NBADraft.net 6th, Bleacher Report 6th
5 things to know:
*Anthony burst onto the NCAA scene last fall with two monster games to begin his collegiate career. He had 34 points and 11 rebounds in his debut against Notre Dame, then 20 and 10 against UNC Wilmington in his second game. For a brief period, he looked like he didn't belong in the college ranks, that he would put up Trae Young-type numbers en route to being possibly the first pick in the draft. But then reality set in and Anthony's numbers dipped and, of particular concern, was his lack of shooting efficiency. Shooting 38 percent from the field is a major red flag for a player who will have to be effective on the perimeter to find success at the next level.
*Part of Anthony's freshman year story arc dealt with an ankle injury that forced him to miss nearly two months of games and seemed to hamper his production at times even when he was available. So, perhaps some of his shooting troubles can be explained with that as context. The injury is not expected to be a major concern for his NBA career.
*Anthony is a gifted ball-handler with an arsenal of moves that are advanced for his age. He has a quick stepback jumper he likes to utilize and dribbles well in traffic. Anthony is more of a score-first point guard who doesn't have the passing vision of other prospects like LaMelo Ball, but he shows some creativity on the offensive end. One of his best traits is rebounding, which he does exceptionally well for his size and his quickness allows him to turn those into fastbreak opportunities.
*He is considered a solid defender with the quickness and strength to make it tough on point guards. Defense can be more difficult to project at the NBA level, but it seems like Anthony has a chance to be a positive on that end of the floor.
*Anthony's father is Greg Anthony, the 12th overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. The elder Anthony won a national title at UNLV, played 11 NBA seasons and has since worked as a broadcaster.
Fit with Wizards: The question for Anthony and the Wizards is one you will hear often with this year's draft class and that is whether they can spend such a high draft pick on a player who overlaps with John Wall in particular but also Bradley Beal. The Wizards have a ton of money allocated to their backcourt with two multi-time All-Stars, yet this draft is deeper at point guard than at any other position.
Anthony, though, might be easier to mesh with Wall and Beal than others would because of the style he plays. He figures to be effective off the ball with his three-point shot and, though he's probably too small to pair with both Wall and Beal in three-guard lineups, should be able to co-exist with either of them individually. Even with Wall, Anthony could play the two on offense and take the point guard assignment on defense.
If the Wizards took Anthony, they could start him out as a microwave scorer off the bench. Though sometimes that is a difficult transition for rookies, Anthony has the tools to be good at it. He would bring a different element with his energy, handle and range.
Ultimately, what Anthony amounts to is a bit of a boom-or-bust prospect. The ceiling appears high, maybe like a Kemba Walker-type scoring guard. But players like that often times level out as a Trey Burke or Shabazz Napier, two guys Wizards fans know well.
On the face of it, the Wizards seem likely to find a better fit for them than Anthony in this draft. Though he isn't as redundant style-wise as other prospects, he also doesn't seem to offer enough potential for them to overlook the drawbacks.
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