Cole Anthony Scouting Report: Top 5 Point Guard NBA Prospect

Overall Impressions

Cole AnthonyOne of the hardest types of prospects to evaluate is the shoot-first point guard. Most of the time, these players are a step behind in their playmaking abilities and, thus, rely on their shooting game to make an impact. Also, these scorers lack a strong foundation on the defensive end, making the evaluation process even more difficult. Sadly, this type of prospect is one of the most likely to become a bust due to their one-dimensional style of play. After hours of film, I’m still not quite sure what to make of Anthony. In my eyes, he is the quintessential shoot-first boom or bust prospect.

Cole Anthony was one of the most hyped-up prospects coming into the 2019 college basketball. The son of Greg Anthony, Cole had an excellent high school basketball season where he excelled as a scorer. However, his 2019 freshman season at North Carolina was tarnished by a partially torn meniscus, which ultimately hurt his production and draft stock. Almost all of the lottery picks in this draft have amazing potential but lack definitive star-power. Anthony is one of them. I’m curious to see what the proper system and coaching will do for Anthony’s game.

Stats

PTSREBASTSTLBLKFG%3PT%FT%TO
18.55.24.01.3.3.380.348.7503.5

Despite a partially torn meniscus that forced Anthony to miss half the season, Anthony still put up elite scoring numbers. For the North Carolina Tar Heels, Anthony ended the season with 18.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. Anthony also showed promise on the defensive side of the ball with 1.3 steals per game. His shooting splits don’t stand out, but given the number of contested shots he took, a .380% field goal and .348 three-point percentage doesn’t look too bad. However, the guard needs to work on his playmaking and, most notably, finding guys in stride. His dismal 3.5 turnovers per game have to be reduced if he wants to get consistent time at the point guard position in the NBA.

Pros

When you watch Cole Anthony, you can’t help but see the passion this young man plays with. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest pros a prospect can have. As an NBA team, you want a player so passionate about the game that he makes all the necessary winning plays, puts his body on the line and spends the time honing his craft. In my eyes, Anthony stands above nearly every prospect in this draft class. In many games, you could see Cole Anthony make winning plays with not only his shot but by also grabbing the rebound or steal needed to ensure his team has the last possession.

I also appreciate that Cole Antony plays low to the ground. His 6’3’’ height could make him a target for an opposing team’s bigger guard. However, having this low stance allows himself to maintain his balance and move alongside the defender. In opposition to guards his size like CJ McCollum who tend to play more upright, I think Anthony has the potential to be a great perimeter defender despite his height.

Anthony also has the ability to make contested shots. He has a quick release and plays with his elbows inside, allowing him to maximize his shot efficiency. Combined with a 75% free throw percentage, he has the ability to become an elite shooter in the NBA. Anthony also has a mean step-back that, with a bit more refinement, could rival James Harden. He has a knack for exploding on his jump shot, elevating to the highest point and releasing at that point. I don’t have any fears surrounding Cole Anthony scoring in the NBA.

Another positive of Anthony’s game is his speed. Against the lesser competition, he looked downright faster. This bodes well for Anthony’s ability to beat defenders to the rim on floppy sets and high screens. Look for Anthony to make his name on killer crossovers and isolation plays.

Cons

While Anthony has many positives to his game, he also has crippling negatives. For one, he struggles as a playmaker. Anthony only generated 4 assists per game and at times struggled with his turnovers. While his turnovers could be attributed to his ball-dominant presence in the Tar Heels offense, his ball-dominant nature makes his assist rate look even more concerning. With so much time with the ball, you would expect Anthony to average 6-7 assists. He will occasionally make the right pass, but won’t lead passes to teammates. I am concerned that he may be moved to the 2 position which due to his height may limit his team’s defense.

While he makes contested jump shots consistently, it is not at an elite rate. Furthermore, he relies too often on contested shots instead of finishing at the rim. Simply put, I don’t think Anthony is polished in his inside game, which forces him to lean on his streaky contested jump shots. Anthony struggled to makes shots near the basketball with a dismal 39% around the rim. At 6’3’’ his height isn’t the limiting factor; guys like Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving have shown an ability to get these shots off seven-foot centers. The problem for Anthony is that he lacks a second gear. While he has the speed to get past his defender, he doesn’t have the shifty-ness to get past interior defenders, forcing him to put up contested shots.

Outside of these two areas, he doesn’t have any other glaring weaknesses. However, as a point guard, teams expect you to be a playmaker and score around the rim. What good does your shooting do if defenses know you can’t score efficiently by the basket? Because of this, I could see teams play tight on Anthony at the perimeter to ensure his shots are contested. Also, his lack of playmaking makes it even easier for opponents to predict his moves. If he can improve on these two fundamental weaknesses, I would have a higher ceiling on Anthony. I appreciate his work ethic, competitive nature, and clutch gene. Becoming a respectable inside scorer would ease his game, making him a lethal offensive target.

Best Fit

Detroit Pistons

Detroit PistonsI like Cole Anthony to the Detroit Pistons. If the Pistons decide to keep Derrick Rose, Cole Anthony has a valuable mentor. Regardless, the Piston’s current roster and young pieces provide Anthony with the balanced shooting needed to open up his game. Also, the team has Blake Griffin who is known as an excellent playmaker. While not a point guard, Griffin will take the pressure of being the playmaker every possession away from Anthony. With Griffin, Anthony could do what he does best, score the ball. Also, I like Anthony working with veteran coach Dwayne Casey, who is known for developing talent. Detroit seems like a win-win situation for Anthony.

New York Knicks

New York KnicksI could see Cole Anthony playing well with the Knicks. Anthony is from the area so I have no concern with him adapting to the city. Also, Anthony spent most of his high school career in the limelight as the nation’s top prospect. Even under this spotlight, Anthony excelled. I don’t think the New York media market will overwhelm Cole Anthony.

Also, R.J. Barrett and Cole Anthony can work well together. R.J. Barrett is less of a shooter and more of a slasher type of player while Cole Anthony is the complete opposite with his range but lack of an inside game. Both players account for each other’s weaknesses and will be able to keep defenses on their toes with different looks and playstyles.

Player Comparison

The player that comes to mind is CJ McCollum. At 6’3, McCollum at times struggles to finish at the rim and lacks a strong defensive game because of his height. In spurts, McCollum can run an offense, but should not be counted on a regular consensus. Sound familiar? If Cole Anthony develops his interior scoring, we will see Anthony reach McCollum’s level. If not, Anthony will struggle to get consistent playing time.

Draft Range

Again, this draft has a lot of guys with star potential, but no true definitive stars. I could very well see Anthony as an elite scoring option. However, I could just as easily see him as a mid-tier bench player. If he could make his weakness somewhat resemble strengths, Anthony will be valuable for NBA teams. Because of his weaknesses, I have Anthony projected within the 7-10 range. I think you won’t see the value of Anthony at the point guard position for a few years. As a shooting guard, Anthony will thrive but his size could impact the defensive side of the ball.

  
Miles Jasper is an incoming law student studying employment and labor law. Miles’ passions lie within the salary cap, collective bargaining, and labor relations between leagues and their players. He also likes to analyze college prospects and participate in fantasy sports. In his free time, Miles is an avid runner who also enjoys poker, cooking, and watching movies.

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