Scouting Report: Cole Anthony

Age: 20.1 years old on draft day, North Carolina Freshman.

Measurements: 6’3 (in shoes), 184 lbs, 6’4 1/2 wingspan

Background: As the son of NBA veteran Greg Anthony, Cole received lots of recognition as he flashed his talent through the high school ranks. Once he transferred from Malloy High School in New York to the legendary Oak Hill Academy, it was clear Cole wanted to prove himself as one of the best players in the country against the best competition. 

Personality Analysis: Cole Anthony has an undeniable confidence in himself and his abilities, but while his leadership has been in question this season, it appears he has an attitude where he has the willingness to push his team to win or go down trying which is a positive. If he can approach the NBA with humbleness towards veterans and leadership, but channel his confidence into a mentality to be the best, he will have a strong NBA career. 

Athleticism: Anthony is a high level athlete and he constantly displays his quickness and agility which bodes well for him at the next level. He was billed as an elite leaper in high school but he did not display that much in games this season. This could be due to the paint being clogged, then due to his meniscus injury he suffered mid-season. Regardless, he will make remarkable plays with his athleticism such as this layup against Wake Forest and the spacing the NBA provides may give him clearer runways to showcase more often.

https://twitter.com/tyler_glazier/status/1226960319899226114?s=20

Projected Role: Lead Guard/Starter | Dynamic Scorer 

Projected Draft Landing: 6-14

Career Projections:

  • High: Develops an efficient scoring attack from playing with NBA talent. Averages of 48% FG, 38% 3FG, 85% FT on high volume. Develops into a high level playmaker excelling in the pick and roll to average 8 assists per game during the peak of his career. Good team defender and makes plays using his athleticism. All-star caliber player on a consistent playoff team. 
  • Medium: Shows elite scoring abilities in individual games but his efficiency is average to below average (45% FG, 35% 3FG, 80% FT). Able to use his offensive gravity to create open looks for teammates but not at a high rate (4-6 assist per game). Average defender and makes plays with his athleticism.
  • Low: Bench scorer & playmaker on low to moderate efficiency that progressed at a low rate from college. Percentages around 42-45% FG, 32-35% 3FG, 75% FT. Below average defender but makes plays with his athleticism.

Strengths

Dynamic scoring – Cole Anthony’s main draw will be his scoring ability. Although his season was inefficient at North Carolina, he displayed the flashes of talent that made him the top point guard in his class coming out of high school. It appeared often that Anthony was the primary creator of offense for UNC this season which should give him somewhat of a pass for the numbers that resulted. 

Per Synergy, Anthony is excellent in isolation scenarios whether it ends in him scoring or passing the ball to a score converting 50.7% of the time he is in these scenarios and 1.058 PPP. This is a result of the gravity he attracts with the ball in his hands and leveraging his ability against the defense will force defenders to make decisions that Anthony can take advantage of. Continuing to grow in his ability to manipulate opposing teams as he transitions into the pros will become a major swing skill for his success.

With how important off-the-dribble scoring has become in the NBA, Anthony ranked in the 72nd-percentile in jump shots off the dribble proving that he’ll be able to keep the defense honest in how they guard him. But to keep them honest he needs to be a threat at the rim as well.

Athleticism – I mentioned this in the intro but I wanted to bring this up again here because it’s an interesting topic regarding Cole. In high school he was known for attacking the rim and getting what he wanted with ease but his jump shot was the question mark. This season, the script seemed to have flipped where he’s answered more questions about his jump shot and left much unanswered at the basket. As mentioned previously, I do believe lanes will clear more in the NBA with more spacing and defenses having more scoring threats to worry about on his team. Then he’ll be able to show the power or finesse at the basket that we’ve seen from him in high school. Teams will be curious about his meniscus injury he suffered but impressively returned from and will be mindful of future implications of this injury.

But athleticism isn’t just about his 43-inch vertical (247Sports). Cole Anthony is a quick and shifty athlete that will be able to make plays for himself and his teammates off his body alone. We’ve seen him catch players by surprise with quick timing on blocks (block on Oregon’s Shakur Juiston) or jump passing lanes to get in transition. Anthony is a gamer who is going to look to make plays to put his team in position to win. 

Mentality – It’s going to be Cole Anthony’s mentality that carries him through his NBA career. On the court it’s clear that his approach is to do everything he can to win even if at times it seems his judgement can be misled. Regardless, he exudes the ora of being a leader or alpha which is a good quality to have. He’s willing to make the big play, take the big shot, and he doesn’t shy away from big moments. He also deserves credit for returning to play after his meniscus injury in a day and age where many people were saying he should sit out for the rest of the season. Cole had more to prove and he didn’t let the injury or skeptics stop him from getting back on the court to compete. It also seems off the court, Anthony approaches everything as if he is already a pro, which is probably a credit to things his father taught him growing up. 

Areas of Improvement

Decision Making – In this section I’m going to specify areas of Cole Anthony’s game that he needs to improve but it became clear that his issues tend to stem from poor decision making therefore I believe this to be the biggest area of improvement for him. While an argument can be made that Anthony did not have a tremendous supporting cast with him at North Carolina, winning star players would find ways to successfully incorporate all the pieces of the team. His inefficiency is a result of the green light he had at UNC and not finding his shots within the flow of the offense. I expect his scoring efficiency will bounce back on the next level when he has to pick and choose his spots in the offense to shoot. 

To give a specific example of this issue, Cole is ranking in the 24th-percentile in transition offense per Synergy. The three most recent possessions of him in transition resulted in pull up jump shots that had clear better options. Those are possessions that hurt his overall efficiency and his effectiveness in transition. This is something that can be corrected on the next level as he learns the importance of each possession. 

Another example of poor decision-making are his 3.5 turnovers per game and underwhelming assist to turnover ratio. His turnovers typically end up as a result from playing too fast or forcing something that is not there. On the other hand there is enough evidence that suggests he is a capable playmaker and placing him in a situation with high level NBA players his assist totals would naturally rise to 6-7 assists per game if handed the keys to an offense. He’s skilled enough to make the passes you need him to make, the frequency of those passes is what’s desired. 

Following this, he ranks in the 39th-percentile in pick and roll offense, listed as “Average” among his peers per Synergy. In a league that relies heavily on the pick and roll, he should be at least an above average ranking as a point guard.

Verdict

Overall, I believe Cole Anthony is still a top talent in this draft class and he’s a guy whose game will be a better fit for the NBA than college. While the projection of his career is dependent on better decision making and efficiency, what he has in his scoring ability, athleticism, and “dog” mentality should be enough to make him a top-10 pick in this draft. I would like to see Cole Anthony go to a team that isn’t too young and has respected vets that will allow him to learn on the floor but will be positive influences in his decision making. A couple teams I like his fit on are the Phoenix Suns or Detroit Pistons.

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