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Earlier this week, we began our rundown of players the Celtics could target with the sixth overall pick in next month’s NBA Draft with our profile of Kentucky power forward Julius Randle. Today we turn to Boston’s other first-round selection, number 17, which they acquired through the trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn last offseason, and we do so with a look at former UCLA Bruin Kyle Anderson:
Name: Kyle Anderson
Position: Point guard
Stats: 6’9″, 235 lbs.
The first thing one notices about Anderson, naturally, is that he’s a point guard despite standing 6’9″ tall. While former UCLA coach Ben Howland played him at forward during his freshman season in 2012-13, the point is his preferred position, and everything suggests that he will stay there when he makes the move to the NBA, especially considering how his numbers improved as a sophomore last season, when he was the Bruins’ starting PG.
In 2013-14, Anderson averaged 14.6 points per game, and led UCLA in minutes played (33.2), rebounds (8.8), assists (6.5), blocks (0.8) and three-point percentage (48.3%), which should be more than enough to convince NBA coaches to let him play the point. He also earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the Pac-12 Tournament, after going for 21 points and a season-high 15 assists in a championship game upset of #4 Arizona. He failed to replicate that success in the NCAA Tournament, however, averaging just 11.3 points, 7.7 boards and 5.3 dimes as the fourth-seeded Bruins bowed out to top-ranked Florida in the Sweet Sixteen.
The knock on Anderson, a direct result of his size, is that he’s too slow to defend quicker point guards, and that problem would only be amplified in the NBA, especially in a division that features the likes of Michael Carter-Williams, Kyle Lowry and Deron Williams, who could give Anderson fits with their speed. Still, his offensive firepower is undeniable, and the Celtics have to like the idea of having a player of his caliber backing up Rajon Rondo.
Whether or not Boston goes after a point guard will depend on if Danny Ainge thinks he can lock up Rondo or a comparable PG for the long term, and if the Celtics believe Phil Pressey can build on what was a very promising end to his rookie season and become a reliable NBA backup. In Rondo’s case at least, that’s a big if, and there are going to be plenty of PGs popping up in mock drafts next to the Celtics’ name. Defensive issues notwithstanding, Anderson would be a very good get at number 17.