The San Antonio Spurs list 18 players on the roster heading into training camp, and Air Alamo will break down each of the current players, their strengths, weaknesses, chances to make the roster and expectations for the 2015-16 NBA season.
Next up on the list is Kyle Anderson, a second-year player who both San Antonio and its fans hope will secure a spot in the rotation.
Who Is He?
A 6’9″, 230-pounder, Anderson attended UCLA for two years and was one of the most complete players in all of college basketball. He racked up 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game as a senior and even shot 48.3 percent from three-point range in a small sample.
Somehow, the Spurs managed to select Anderson with the final pick of the first round in 2014. Several outlets called him the “steal of the draft,” and Minnesota Timberwolves small forward and UCLA product Shabazz Muhammad echoed that belief.
Minny’s Shabazz Muhammad is admittedly biased but he thinks the Spurs “got a steal” taking Kyle Anderson in the draft.
— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) November 22, 2014
Anderson wasn’t quite ready for the NBA last season, though. He spent a majority of the year with the Austin Spurs of the D-League. The now-22-year-old dominated the lower circuit, tallying 21.3 points, 8.7 boards, 4.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.5 blocks.
This past July, Anderson led the Spurs to a championship at the Las Vegas Summer League and was named MVP of the tournament. He amassed 18.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals.
Strengths and Weaknesses
One attribute that has stood out since Anderson’s college days is his pass-first offensive mentality, which certainly meshes with San Antonio’s style. Anderson has outstanding court vision, and he’s not afraid to attempt—and execute—creative passes.
Anderson has decent ball-handling skills but does commit turnovers with regularity. Plus, his shooting range is a work in progress, so Anderson has a limited offensive skill set at this point of his career.
As his nickname “Slo-Mo” suggests, however, Anderson isn’t exactly the most fleet of foot. That lack of speed doesn’t help defensive struggles, since Anderson must rely on anticipation and length to deal with quicker opponents.
But the biggest issue with Anderson is the absence of a clear position. He was a 6’9″ point guard in college, isn’t a big perimeter threat at NBA range and doesn’t quite have the filled-out frame to handle post players. While Anderson could develop into a versatile, game plan-altering defender, he’s not there yet.
What to Expect in 2015-16
Anderson is a lock to make the roster, but his role for the 2015-16 campaign remains a question heading into training camp.
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Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw and David West need a fifth member to complete the second unit, and Anderson is the leading candidate to fill that spot. However, he cannot match Marco Belinelli’s three-point prowess, nor does Anderson drastically improve the defense right now.
Anderson should receive a regular dose of playing time, and head coach Gregg Popovich will likely remain patient with the young guard—forward or whatever the Spurs want him to be.
San Antonio isn’t looking for Anderson to become a superstar, but the 2015-16 season provides the first consistent opportunity for him to stake a claim to a spot in the rotation—and Anderson, while encountering a handful of rough patches along the way, should do just that.