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Wing | 6’6 | 230 | Virginia
Projected: Late 1st round
Best Case: Eddie Jones
Most Likely: PJ Tucker
Worst Case: Xavier Henry
Built like a truck, freak athlete, elite three point shooter, versatile defender, non-stop motor and a mind for the game. In the event that Wes moves on but LA stays, Justin Anderson might be a perfect plug and play replacement at shooting guard. The added athleticism and lack of a refined post or step-back game probably make him more Danny Green than Wes, but that’s a player type that has bundles of value at present in the NBA.
After that glowing introduction, time for some concerns. Anderson only really ‘got it’ as a college player in his junior year. There is some evidence that if a prospect can’t excel as an underclassman, he likely won’t in the NBA either. This condition is included as a factor in Kevin Pelton’s pre-draft player ratings, for example. Anderson played a smarter, more conservative game as a junior – reducing his fouls and turnovers while gambling less for steals and blocks as a vital cog in Virginia head coach Tony Bennett’s restrained defensive scheme. Playing a similar way in the NBA should be effective but if cutting down errors rather than harnessing new skills is his main avenue of improvement, Anderson’s upside might be somewhat limited.
Anderson wouldn’t need or be expected to have an expansive offensive game if he was drafted by the Blazers though. In fact, Portland would be one of the few places he could play big at shooting guard rather than as an undersized small forward. The Blazers gameplan has been designed with a SG in mind who has few ball-handling or distributing responsibilities but can catch and shoot, defend both wing spots and use bulk to his advantage on both ends. After hitting an uber efficient 1.32PPP in catch and shoot situations as a junior and sporting a 230lb frame with only 5% body fat, he gets a check on all counts. As a result, I think Justin Anderson could be a great pick if the Blazers are looking for pseudo continuity in the wake of a Wes Matthews departure. Even if the worst happens and our starting lineup scatters to far corners of the NBA, Anderson is still the type of player every team could use and is young enough at 21 to grow through a rebuild into his prime. In summary – you’re going to help us, Mr. Anderson. Whether you want to or not.