The NBA Draft Lottery took place last week, and while there’s not a clear cut favorite to be the #1 selection in this year’s draft, there’s always intrigue to see how it all shakes out. Ultimately the Minnesota TImberwolves were awarded with the first pick, followed by Golden State, Charlotte and Chicago to round out the top 4. Some other notables from the lottery were the Knicks landing at 8, Phoenix at 10, San Antonio at 11, New Orleans at 13, and Boston rounding out the lottery at 14.
When the college basketball season began last November, Cole Anthony was a clear cut pick to be a lottery selection, and most likely the first point guard taken off the board. Despite averaging 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in 22 games, Anthony’s stock dipped during the season, and with the COVID-19 pandemic halting workouts, hasn’t had a chance to rebuild his draft standing. The NBA is a point guard driven league, that means that despite his struggles in his lone season in Chapel Hill, Anthony will still be high on a lot of draft boards come draft night. We take a look at some of his potential landing spots, now that we have the 2020 draft order.
In the first season after losing franchise icon Kemba Walker in free agency, things went about as smoothly as expected, but they still need help in their backcourt. Terry Rozier took over for Kemba, and averaged 18.0 points on 42% shooting. Devonte Graham was a bright spot for a team rebuilding, as he led the team in scoring at 18.2 points on 38% shooting. The main reason why this is a possibility is due to ownership and management. Michael Jordan is still the majority owner of the Hornets, and has a history of drafting former Tar Heels higher than they should be selected. It doesn’t help that Mitch Kupchak, another former Tar Heel is the GM, and is in control of the drafting process. It feels like Anthony would be a reach at 3, but don’t put it past that organization to select him.
New York Knicks:
This makes sense for a lot of different reasons. Anthony is from New York, and isn’t afraid to play in the spotlight that is Madison Square Garden. His father, Greg Anthony also played for the Knicks which is always an interesting story line in any draft. The point guard position has been a disaster for the Knicks, since the Jeremy Lin experiment ended, and that’s saying something. Elfrid Payton led the Knicks point guards in scoring at 10.0 points,in addition to his 4.7 rebounds, and 7.2 assists. Frank Ntilkina averaged 6.3 points, but he’s more of a defensive player for them anyways. Former college phenom Dennis Smith Jr. averaged 5.1 points as he struggled adjusting to the NBA game. The Knicks are wanting to build around their young core of R.J. Barrett, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, but need steady play at the most important position on the floor. While Cole Anthony might not be the most ideal pick, he’s still going to be in play for many different reasons.
San Antonio Spurs:
The future of the point guard position is just as unclear as is the speculation of when Hall of Fame head coach Gregg Popovich will retire. Dejounte Murray was supposed to be the future of the position for the Spurs, after Tony Parker left for Charlotte and eventually retired. Murray has struggled with health and consistency, which is expected of a young guard in the NBA. He averaged 10.9 points and 4.1 assists last season, as their postseason streak came to an end. Patty Mills came off the bench and 11.6 points, but he’s getting older and you can’t always count on production from the bench players. In terms of player development, there’s not a better place to go than San Antonio, even when Pop retires, that’s as good a staff in the league today. Having guys like Demar Derozan and LaMarcus Aldridge would make the game easier for Cole, as opposed to going to Charlotte or New York as well.
New Orleans Pelicans:
There might not be a more promising roster of young talent, than what the Pelicans have to offer. With guys like Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball there’s a lot to like about the future of that organization. They are an option for Anthony though because the front office isn’t sold on Lonzo Ball long term. There are a lot of pieces to like about the Pelicans in terms of talent, youth and experience, but like any team you need point guard stability to give yourselves a chance to compete at a high level. Like the Spurs, he has enough around him to make his transition to the league a lot easier than other potential landing spots, but he’ll have to learn under a new coach implementing his philosophy.