Monday, March 22, 2010

James Anderson Writeup

James Anderson - Jr. SG/SF, Oklahoma State

Per36min numbers against Quality Opponents (20 games):
23.2pts, 6.0rebs, 2.7asts, 1.4stls, 0.5blks, 2.9PFs, 2.7TOs
44.2 FG%, 36.0 3pt% (49/136), 82.4 FT%, .50 FTA/FGA

James Anderson is Mr. Offense for the Cowboys. He’s made slow, steady progress in both improving his body and his game the past two years at Oklahoma State, and while there are still some worries about how he’ll translate to the NBA level, he’s answered a lot of the questions people had about him his freshman year.

At 6’6, 220lbs with decent (not exceptional) length and good upper body strength, he has an NBA body for a SG. Athletically, he’s solid and he rarely tires. He’s not an explosive leaper, as you rarely see him dunk or get a lot of lift when he blocks the occasional shot, but he does possess great lateral quickness and has good straight-line speed.

A major limitation of Anderson’s on offense is the lack of good ball-handling skills, even though he’s improved over the past two years as being more comfortable with the ball. When he drives, he drives left roughly 85-90% of the time (even though he’s a right-handed shooter), and most of the time they are swooping drives from the right wing all the way to the left side of the hoop. He is comfortable going straight ahead, but not making quick cuts with the ball. Because of this, he’s most effective when he creates his offense before getting the ball. However, that’s not to say he can’t create his own offense in college, because he can basically do everything you need from a scoring standpoint but drive in a crowded lane and look comfortable going right… it’s more that he’s just an awesome catch-and-shoot player coming off screens, so he’s most deadly doing that.

His scoring skills outside of that are plentiful, and they’re very efficient as he leads the SG prospects I follow in scoring efficiency by a wide margin. He has deep, deep range and can hit shots with a hand in his face. He can stop and pop. In the post, he has good conversion rates on turnaround jumpers and can also spin and take it to the rim on occasion. He’s even hit a handful of high glass bank shots from 10-15 feet out. Finally, because all this, he occasionally utilizes shot fakes to get his man on his toes and then drives past them when there’s an open lane. Unfortunately, he’s not an explosive finisher, and will almost always lay it in instead of dunking - though he can use either hand. When there is room to drive, he’s good at seeking contact and getting himself to the line - where he’s a very good foul shooter for a SG and possesses a nice stroke.

Outside of scoring, he’s a relatively average or below average playmaker. He makes very questionable passes once or twice a game, sometimes passes that are not even close to the target. He also doesn’t possess good vision for a guard - or maybe he does see the passing lanes, but knows that his passing ability isn’t good enough to fit them in tight spaces. That’s not to say he’s a selfish player, because he moves the ball around well and only forces the issue sometimes - which is perfectly okay because that’s his role. He just isn’t very skilled when it comes to passing and therefore, when combined with his ball-handling troubles, would likely need to be on a team that shares the ball or has a ball-dominant PG.

On the other side of the floor, he does a good job pressuring his man on the perimeter, frequently being so locked in on staying with his man, that he often doesn’t help out on the weakside where there’s an opportunity. When he does help on the weakside, it’s usually when the ball isn’t on his side of the floor, so he can sag into the paint - and it’s there where he usually comes up with his blocks. Back to his man-defense, his good athleticism, strength, and lateral quickness are on display here, because he can easily stay with his man even if he’s active on the offensive end without the ball. While he doesn’t look to steal the ball and doesn’t have active hands in that sense, he does a good job at disrupting potential passing lanes by keeping his arms outstretched. Fundamentally, he’s come a long way from when he was a freshman, to where he’s a good college defender (often being on the other team’s best offensive backcourt player) and should be solid in the NBA.

When it comes to rebounding, he’s a kind of forgettable. He likes to mix it up and crash the boards offensively at times, but sometimes that leads to the opponents getting fast break opportunities. Defensively, he isn’t a strong rebounding guard and mainly just gets his boards by being in the right place at the right time, and occasionally being aggressive.

Overall, those who have followed him since his freshman season can see the improvement he’s made in his all-around game. Hopefully, he’ll be able to continue to improve his handle, because otherwise he’s going to be fairly limited offensively in the pros as a SG who gets most of his offense created for him. The upside is there to be a #2 scorer in the NBA, though he’s more likely destined to be a forgettable fringe starting SG. I currently have him 16th and he’ll likely hold steady there unless he really turns it up come tournament time.

(Note: I had originally written this on February 25th, 2010; but I have since updated the Quality Opponent stats)

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