Utah Jazz NBA Draft Prospects: Cole Anthony
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With fewer than four weeks left until the NBA draft, the Utah Jazz are deep into their draft preparation. Today we look at the once highly touted prospect Cole Anthony, a guard out of North Carolina who had an up and down freshman season before declaring for the draft.
The Jazz own the 23rd pick in the first round of the November 18 draft. The team traded away their second-round pick in 2018 in a move to acquire Kyle Korver.
Cole Anthony: 6’3, 190 lbs G – Fr – UNC
18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4 assists, 38% FG/34% 3p/75% FT
Cole Anthony was a top-five prospect leaving high school, and though he won’t find himself among the top five players selected in November’s draft, it’s not difficult to see why he was such a highly sought after prep-star.
Anthony plays with supreme confidence as a ball in hand scorer, relentlessly attack the opposing defense with his quick first step and strong body. Son of former NBA veteran Greg Anthony, the UNC freshman plays like he’s had his eye on the NBA throughout his life. Anthony makes pro-level moves with excellent footwork and a strong handle.
Plays as though he’s faced bigger, more experienced competition throughout his basketball career. Anthony has a series of finishing moves at the rim that imply he’s used to facing bigger competition. Not every college player can say that, especially freshman. Those assets should translate to the NBA quickly.
Cole Anthony last 5 games: 22.6 PTS, 4.2 REBS, 5.4 AST, 2.6 TOV, 56% from 2, 49% from 3, and UNC 3-2 during that stretch. Making shots from all over the floor, finding teammates on the move. Looking forward to getting another look at the Tar Heels PG in Greensboro at ACC Tourney. pic.twitter.com/hlEW8T6RPT
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 6, 2020
Though he doesn’t always show it in traffic, Anthony is a terrific leaper with dunk contest like creativity at the rim. There’s no question he can play above the rim, especially in transition. He played with surprisingly little talent at UNC this year and could see his game really develop with the spacing provided at the next level.
Due to his competitive nature, Anthony is a willing defender, with good strength and quickness to be more than adequate on that end of the floor. If he’s willing to dedicate some of his energy towards the defensive end and away from his scoring mentality he could be a plus defender at the NBA level.
His production level as a freshman is impressive, averaging better than 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists, and it’s difficult to imagine him not finding a role as a scorer in the NBA.
There are two concerning issues about Anthony’s freshman season at UNC, and both could seriously hinder his NBA career.
First, the guard was inefficient shooting the ball, despite being perhaps the most willing shooter in the ACC last season. Shooting below 38 percent from the floor and just 34 percent from three despite his tremendous physical gifts may hint that his shot selection is a bigger problem than his skillset.
Anthony has been a star player at every level throughout his NBA career, is he comfortable taking a backseat if he can’t reach those heights in the NBA? With his excellent assist and rebounding numbers, the glass half full crowd should see Anthony as being able to tone down his shot hunting in favor of getting his teammates involved.
Cole Anthony's shotmaking has been there—pullups, spotups, off screens
But he went 0-7 inside arc vs OSU last night. Now 6-21 at rim this year, 3-12 runners. Mix of tunnel vision, wrong foot, spacing, bad angles, lack of explosion/touch. Not worth panicking, but worth addressing pic.twitter.com/SE6WN1zosl
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) December 5, 2019
The second issue that arose is that his UNC team didn’t win games. The Tar Heels finished with a record 14-19, by far their worst record since Roy Williams took over the program in 2003. Anthony is far from the only player that will be drafted in the first round coming from a team that underperformed (See Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart at Washington) but very few players are so directly tied to their team’s underperformance.
It’s not difficult to see when watching UNC games that Anthony regularly tried to do too much, often to the detriment of his team. Though there wasn’t top tier NBA talent flanking him in his lone college season, UNC has more talent than its record would imply, and Anthony had something to do with that. The Tar Heels were 10-12 when Anthony played, and a similarly unimpressive 4-7 in games he missed.
Furthermore, due to the guard’s mega-aggressive style of play, he does tend to get nicked up at a higher pace than some other guards. Anthony regularly jumps recklessly into crowds and lands awkwardly, and as a result, missed nearly two months of his freshman season after undergoing surgery on his meniscus.
How Anthony Would Fit With The Jazz In The Draft
Anthony is unquestionably one of the most talented prospects in the draft, and the Jazz would face a dilemma if he was still on the board when they were drafting at 23. On one hand, he’s one of the highest upside picks in the draft and could pair excellently next to Donovan Mitchell in the future if he’s willing to channel his inner facilitator.
On the other hand, his inefficient scoring numbers, and lack of terrific length (6’4.5 wingspan) don’t bring either the shooting or the defensive versatility the Jazz have said they are targeting this offseason.
26 for Cole Anthony in his return yesterday, 14-14 FTs.
No need to overanalyze the good/bad in first game since 12/8 , just nice to see him back, making plays pic.twitter.com/qTqYFTGrXp
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) February 2, 2020
If Jordan Clarkson does resign with the team, it’s hard to see how Anthony would find early minutes on the roster, and may not be the type of prospect willing to work his way up through D League before earning rotation minutes.
However, there are similarities between Anthony’s inefficient college numbers and those of Mitchell in college. Though Mitchell was a significantly better scorer inside the arc, Anthony had similar three-point shooting numbers to Mitchell in his sophomore year at Louisville. Their aggressive offensive attacks and elite athleticism have similarities as well.
Ultimately, if Anthony is available at 23 the Jazz may feel forced to pull the trigger understanding they might not find similar upside in the draft in the 20s again over the next several years. However, Anthony is far from the sure bet he looked like he might be coming out of high school.
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Draft Prospects: Sam Merrill
Draft Prospects: Yoeli Childs
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