Celtics Draft Profile: Justin Anderson

Danny Ainge loves defense-first players, and Anderson is one of the best defenders in the draft. Anderson's offensive game also improved greatly over the course of last season and he is showing that he's not reached his potential and has room for growth. Anderson projects to be a small forward in the NBA.

Justin Anderson of the University of Virginia is a coaches dream- he plays excellent defense with awesome effort, doesn't play scared, and he continues to improve every season, showing the ability to take coaching. Anderson has a great build for the NBA and he could be a player that plays a lot of minutes as a rookie. Anderson is 6'6, 231 pounds, and he has an impressive 6'11 wingspan. Not only are his arms long, he's also extremely strong. His strength allows him to not only be a strong defender on the wing but also be able to handle bigs in the post, similar to Draymond Green of the 2015 World Champion Warriors.

NBA teams were aware of Anderson and his defensive prowess after his freshman year, but he had a lot of room for growth. Anderson is so physically gifted that he can afford to make a mistake fundamentally but make up for it with speed, strength, and length. Offensively, Anderson has a long way to go before he can be a legit contributor in the NBA. His shooting improved each year at Virginia, but he struggles to handle the ball and must develop in order to create offense on his own. Anderson is excellent in transition because of his athletic ability and he's also good at cutting to the basket and looking for alley-hoops. Explosiveness cannot be coached into a player, but ball-handling can. NBA teams would be willing to wait on the overall offensive game in order to have the defensive game and transition ability of Anderson,

Anderson is from Montross, Virginia, and he played his high school years at Montrose Christian High School in Rockville, Maryland. His best year was his senior year; Anderson averaged 17.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, three assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game. He was also named the Gatorade Maryland Boys Basketball Player of the year and was also named a Top 100 recruit by ESPN. Anderson was expected to head to Maryland and play for Coach Williams, but when he retired, Anderson changed his mind and chose the Virginia Cavaliers over the Terrapins.

Anderson was on the floor immediately as a true freshman, appearing in all 35 games and starting 17 of them. He averaged 24 minutes, 7.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, .9 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game. Anderson shot 42% from the field, but only 30% from three. Anderson had a limited offensive game as a freshman and he needed to improve if he wanted to make more of an impact.

Going into his sophomore year, Anderson expected a bump in minutes, but it ended up going the opposite way. Anderson averaged 21.5 minutes, 7.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, .4 steals, and .9 blocks per game. He only started five of 37 games, but he made an impact in his limited minutes. His shooting percentage dropped to 40% overall and 29% from three. Anderson' play was recognized as he was named the 2013-14 ACC Sixth Man of the Year.

Anderson entered his junior year as the starter, and he produced the best numbers of his career. He started 23 games, played in 26 (he missed eight games to an injury) averaging 12.2 points, four rebounds, 1.7 assists, .7 steals, and .5 blocks per game. The most encouraging part of Anderson's play was his shooting improvement, finishing the season at 47% overall and 45% from three. That type of improvement is exactly what NBA GM's were looking for.

The Celtics have shown some serious interest in Anderson, having him come in for pre-draft workouts. Assuming the Celtics don't move up, Anderson is a strong candidate to be the 16th pick. If the rumor is true that Boston is trading up, they most likely won't be drafting Anderson, but if they stay put, the ex-Cavalier has a great chance to be a Celtic.


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