I admittedly haven't seen Kyle Anderson as many times as national or east coast scouts. I watched him play in probably five games this summer.
What sets him apart as an elite prospect is the combination of an advanced skill set to go along with a unique playmaking and passing sense. He is a threat on the offensive side of the ball to score or to set up teammates. He probably was the best pure passer I saw in July, regardless of position. What stood out about his passing was how few passes were errant or late. He had very few turnovers as a result of his passing, and his pantheon of passes isn't limited to the smart, easy pass but the split-second-window, thread-the-needle type. In that sense, he really does approach and play the game like a point guard. He combines that exceptional ability with a nice scoring skill set. It's well documented that Anderson isn't quick, but he consistently was able to create space against more athletic defenders to either drive to the basket or pull up for a shot. He epitomizes the crafty scorer, using hesitation moves and a very good handle, and then a very soft shooting touch. He is pretty long, at just about 6-7, so just a small hesitation move at the top of the key and he's in the lane and able to lay in the ball off the glass. He's very good catching the ball anywhere from 17 feet and in and creating space for a shot, either facing or with his back to the basket. Because of his passing ability, he is an extreme triple threat that defenders have to respect, and that allows him to take advantage of defenders if they either play off him (Just pull up and hit the shot) or play up in him (find a teammate open around the basket).
|Good with the ball in his hands.|
It's easy to see him fit into Ben Howland's offense at UCLA. It's been said many times about many players, but Anderson truly will be like having a second point guard on the floor. I think he will, in fact, be utilized as a point guard at times in the halfcourt, dominating the ball and running the offense. He's just too good of a playmaker for others and a passer not to have the ball in his hands. He's also an added playmaker on the break. Offensively, he's a match-up nightmare for opposing teams; if they put their power forward on him, Anderson will draw him outside, which will open up a great deal of space inside for UCLA's center, and also greatly hurt the opposing team's defensive rebounding. If the opposition puts a small forward on him, that creates a mismatch for UCLA's small forward, with either a slower power forward or a smaller shooting guard type having to defend him. Howland will undoubtedly want to run the ball through Anderson, much like he did with Tyler Honeycutt, but Anderson offensively is far more skilled than Honeycutt, able to put the ball on the floor, shoot and pass better at the same stage of development.
One of the most common questions regarding prospects is what kind of impact he'll have as a freshman. It's tough to project with Anderson, since, as we said, so much will be determined by the direction and progress of his body in the next year. He's advanced enough offensively to have an impact; it's just a matter of how much he can hold his own on the defensive end.
While he's the #4-ranked prospect in the country – a spot usually filled by an NBA-level prospect and athlete -- that's not the case with Anderson. We're not saying Anderson isn't an NBA-level player; he probably is, eventually. But perhaps what makes him a more valuable college prospect is that he doesn't project to being a one-and-done type. He just isn't athletic enough. And even with all of his skills and court sense, he doesn't project to the NBA very well generally because of that lack of athleticism and a unique body type. Perhaps not the best of news for Anderson, but great news for UCLA fans since this will prolong his stay in Westwood.
From Josh Gershon:
Offensively, Kyle Anderson is a great fit for Ben Howland, who has established himself as one of the best in-game and player development coaches in the country. Anderson is a unique talent as he's very gifted offensively, yet is limited athletically. With his tremendous vision and overall basketball IQ, smooth stroke and good handles for his size, Anderson will be a big weapon for UCLA in a halfcourt set, and Howland will be able to maximize what the Bruins get out of Anderson offensively.
On defense it will be interesting to see what Howland decides to do with Anderson. Howland doesn't like playing zone, which is the defense Anderson would be best suited for. His lack of foot speed makes defending the opposing four most likely, and it will be interesting to see if Anderson's long arms and high basketball IQ combined with Howland's defensive coaching offset the lack of athleticism.