2010 NBA Draft Prospect Profile: James Anderson

Editor's Note, by rook6980: This is the 15th installment in a series of regular postings on draft prospects.  This series will take a look at the top draft prospects for the 2010 NBA Draft in June. The plan is to have one or two a week, leading up to a flurry of activity the week of the draft. My DVR is crammed full of college games, and I'm watching and writing as fast as I can.

James Anderson SG/SF

  • 21 Years Old
  • 6'6"; 210 lbs.
  • Oklahoma State, Junior

James Anderson is arguably the best SG in the draft. He was top five in the nation in scoring and Big 12 Player of the Year in a conference filled with All-Americans and future draft prospects (Ekpe Udoh, Craig Brackins, Xavier Henry, Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Willie Warren, Avery Bradley, Dexter Pittman, Damion James).

Anderson had two solid seasons at Oklahoma State before exploding in his Junior year to score 22 points (60% TS%) and grab six rebounds a game with a PER of 29.1.

Not an elite athlete, Anderson is a sweet shooting, talented scorer in the mold of James Harden. I believe he has been overlooked by a lot of people and is one of the more underrated players in the draft because his game is not based on flashy moves or high flying acrobatic dunks. Instead, like Harden, he is a "crafty" offensive player. He moves without the ball, utilizing screens, back-cuts, curls, anything to get open for his deadly jump shot.

More about James Anderson after the jump.

James Anderson has the ideal size for an NBA shooting guard. Standing 6'6" with a long wingspan and outstanding strength. He's not the most dynamic athlete in the draft, but don't let that fool you. He's got what I like to call "sneaky" athleticism.  Like James Harden (37" max vertical), he'll surprise some people at the NBA Combines with his ability to get up. He's got some decent hops. Anderson has a solid frame, and his strength should help him at the NBA level fighting through screens and finishing at the rim.

Anderson has a silky smooth offensive game. He's a lights out shooter with unlimited range. At Oklahoma State, Anderson was the focal point of their offense - and they ran him off multiple screens to get him open. Anderson moves very well without the ball and can get his shot off with very little room.

Any shot he takes with his feet set is a good shot, regardless of where he is on the court. His jump shot is textbook perfect; with a high, quick, release point and consistent mechanics. Even when fading away, his release remains constant. He is equally adept curling off screens, shooting off the dribble, catching-and-shooting or pulling up on the break. He has effortless NBA three-point range (and beyond). He can just flat out shoot the basketball.

Despite his high usage rate (26.5% his Junior year), he mostly played under control, and avoided excessive turn overs (2.7 per 40). Where he did get in trouble, it was usually on drives to the basket. He would get into the bad habit of putting his head down, resulting in offensive fouls.

Although his jump shot is his main weapon, Anderson remains an extraordinarily efficient and effective scorer. He has shown the ability to drive to the basket, where he can finish strong with either hand. He has shown a tremendous penchant for drawing fouls while penetrating. He went to the Free Throw line 9.2 times (per 40 minutes) last year where he was almost automatic at 81%. He can slash to the basket, but because he lacks advanced ball handling skills, he sometimes has difficulties changing direction. He will need to work on his advanced ball handling skills (cross overs, spins, pivots, etc.) at the next level.

One of the negatives about Anderson's game in the past was that he had a "gunner" mentality - Well that changed somewhat this year when he became the focal point of the offense. He became more of a willing passer (2.8 assists per 40) and showed good court vision.

As good as James Anderson was on offense in his junior year, he was just as bad on defense. He stood too upright, allowing his opponent to beat him off the dribble. He rarely contested shots. He wasn't particularly physical, and his energy level on the defensive side of the ball was lacking. He did help out on the boards though, grabbing 6.8 Rebounds (per 40 Minutes). He's especially good on the defensive boards.

This is all very strange, because in his sophomore year he showed much more effort and energy on defense. That year he was much more physical, using his strength to fight through screens and contest shots. He worked hard as a defender both on and off the ball. He seemed to be dedicated to playing stubborn defense, utilizing a low stance and moving his feet. He even blocked more shots last year. He has the skills to be a good defender, but it appeared he just didn't have the desire.

I remember the same things being said about Blake Griffin not being a good defender - not putting forth effort, even though he had the skill set. Griffin said after the season was done that his coach told him to "coast" on defense; that they couldn't afford to lose him to foul trouble. I'm wondering if the change in Anderson's role as the go-to scorer required him to stay out of foul trouble and conserve energy for the offensive end. Anderson has the skill set, lateral quickness and length to be a lock-down defender. I saw glimpses of a very good defender in his freshman and sophomore years. There were also times this year when you'd see Anderson buckle down and play good defense for a play or two. I'm hoping that another role change will have him re-dedicating himself to playing solid defense again.

Strengths:

  • Ideal size for position
  • Solid athlete
  • Intangibles: Hard worker, Coachable, High Character
  • Has become a better slasher
  • Good finisher
  • Good court vision
  • Knows how to get to the line 
  • Free throw shooting 
  • Excellent shooter with 3-point range
  • Excellent shooter off the dribble
  • Excellent shooter off catch-and-shoot
  • Excellent shooter off screens 
  • Extremely quick release 
  • Doesn't need much space to get his shot off 
  • Efficient scorer
  • Plays under control
  • Good rebounder for a guard

Weaknesses:

  • Not an elite athlete
  • Sometimes too predictable (favors his left hand)
  • Tends to dribble too much 
  • Needs to dedicate himself to playing defense
  • Needs to be more physical on defense
  • Needs to improve advanced ball handling

The long and short of it is that James Anderson can come into the NBA and help a team right away with his shooting. He could be a valuable scoring option off the bench for any team that drafts him. Now, if we find out he was choosing to conserve energy and stay out of foul trouble his junior year, and that he's actually a really good defender, he could be the steal of the draft.

If he gets enough minutes, Anderson should score enough to be among the top rookies. If he turns out to be a good defender, he could be a very good starting quality shooting guard for many many years. If he can't defend, he'll be relegated to marginal starter or designated bench scorer.

Watch James Anderson (#23) in this Video. It shows off his all-around game. Deadly jump shot. Quick release. Court vision. Rebounding. Everything. He even gets a nice block.

He ended up with 27 points, 8 rebounds (7 defensive), 3 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals.

Previous Draft Profiles:

John Wall PG 6-4 195 Fr Kentucky Declared for the NBA Draft.
Evan Turner SG 6-7 217 Jr. Ohio St Declared for the NBA Draft.
Wesley Johnson SF 6-7 205 Jr. Syracuse Declared for the NBA Draft.
Derrick Favors PF 6-9 246 Fr. Ga. Tech Declared for the NBA Draft.
DeMarcus Cousins C 6-11 280 Fr. Kentucky Declared for the NBA Draft.
Al-Farouq Aminu F 6-8 218 Soph. Wake Forest Declared for the NBA Draft
Cole Aldrich C 6-11 245 Jr. Kansas Declared for the NBA Draft
Greg Monroe C 6-10 247 Soph. Georgetown Declared for the NBA Draft
Patrick Patterson F 6-8 235 Jr. Kentucky Declared for the NBA Draft.
Ed Davis F 6-10 225 Soph. North Carolina Declared for the NBA Draft.
Hassan Whiteside -Upcoming C 7-0 235 Fr. Marshall Declared for the NBA Draft
Xavier Henry
SG 6-6 220 Fr. Kansas Declared for the NBA Draft.
Larry Sanders PF 6-10 220 Jr. VCU Declared for the NBA Draft.
Ekpe Udoh PF/C 6-10 240 Jr. Baylor Declared for the NBA Draft.
Stanley Robinson SF 6-8 220 Sr. UConn Senior - Eligible for the Draft
James Anderson SG 6-6 195 Jr. Oklahoma St. Declared for the NBA Draft.
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