Anderson in 2017
|No. 1 – Memphis Grizzlies|
|Position||Small forward / Shooting guard|
September 20, 1993|
New York City, New York
|Listed height||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)|
|Listed weight||230 lb (104 kg)|
|High school||St. Anthony (Jersey City, New Jersey)|
|NBA draft||2014 / Round: 1 / Pick: 30th overall|
|Selected by the San Antonio Spurs|
|2014–2018||San Antonio Spurs|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Kyle F. Anderson (born September 20, 1993) is an American professional basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the UCLA Bruins. After earning All-American honors as a sophomore in 2013–14, he declared for the 2014 NBA draft and was selected in the first round with the 30th overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs.
Anderson developed the ball-handling skills of a point guard at an early age, but his height provided him the versatility to play as a forward. As a high school player in New Jersey, Anderson led his teams to two consecutive state titles, and was named state player of the year during his senior year. One of the top recruits out of high school, Anderson was named second-team all-conference in the Pac-12 as a freshman at UCLA while playing mostly at forward. The following season, he moved to point guard, and was voted the Most Outstanding Player of the Pac-12 Tournament as the Bruins won their first conference tournament title in six years. He played four seasons with San Antonio before signing with Memphis.
Anderson was born in New York City, and grew up in New Jersey in North Bergen before moving to Fairview while in high school. He started playing basketball the day he started walking, which was three days before his first birthday. He attended his first basketball camp at age three. Anderson's father, a longtime high school basketball coach in New Jersey, groomed him to be a point guard. Although Anderson was tall, his father did not want him to be "pigeonholed" as a post player. He had his son play with older players on Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams; usually the smallest player on the court, Anderson developed point guard skills early while passing to his larger teammates.
He began his high school career at Paterson Catholic High School. Although he possessed the skills of a point guard, his 6-foot-5-inch (1.96 m) height led coaches to play him on the wing or in the post. After two years at Paterson Catholic, the school closed, and Anderson moved to St. Anthony High School. Overall, he compiled 119–6 record as a four-year starter, including 65–0 in his two years at St. Anthony. When St. Anthony captured its second straight New Jersey Tournament of Champions title and concluded its second straight undefeated season with a 66–62 victory over Plainfield, Anderson was the team’s third-leading scorer with 14 points. Still, St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley said Anderson was the team's "heart and soul and he was the reason we won the game.’’ For the season, Anderson led the team in scoring (14.7 points per game), rebounding (6.5 per game), assists (3.9 per game), blocked shots (2.0 per game) and deflections. The Star-Ledger named him their state boys basketball Player of the Year. He received national recognition as a Parade All-American, McDonald's All-American, and he was invited to play in the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit. In spite of all the praise he had received in his career, Anderson was described by Hurley as "unassuming", which the coach credited to Anderson's family doing a "great job keeping him balanced."
The 6-foot-8-inch (2.03 m) Anderson was often listed as a small forward, but still considered himself a point guard. Among 2012 recruits, he was ranked the No. 1 small forward by Rivals.com, and No. 2 by ESPN.com and Scout.com behind Shabazz Muhammad. Hurley called Anderson's passing "his best asset."
Anderson committed on September 19, 2011, to attending University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to play Division I basketball for the Bruins. He had also considered Seton Hall, Georgetown, Florida and St. John's. A major factor in his decision was UCLA coach Ben Howland's record of grooming successful point guards in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Anderson and Muhammad were the top players in the Bruins' recruiting class, which was considered the best in the nation. Howland had Anderson mostly playing off the ball, while Larry Drew II was the Bruins' primary ball handler. Playing primarily as a power forward, Anderson finished the season with averages of 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Though he struggled at times under Howland's strict offense, he led the team in rebounding and was the only player ranked in the top 10 in the Pac-12 in both rebounds and assists. He was the first Pac-12 player since UCLA's Bill Walton as a senior in 1973–74 to have at least 300 rebounds and 100 assists in the same season. Anderson was named to the All-Pac-12 second team and the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. Projected by NBA executives to be chosen in the first half of the second round of the 2013 NBA draft if he declared himself eligible, Anderson gave major consideration to leaving college.
Anderson decided to return to UCLA in 2013–14, which he and his family figured would be his final season in college. With a field goal percentage of just 41.6% during the previous season, he worked on improving his shooting from midrange and beyond during the offseason. New Bruins coach Steve Alford, who replaced the fired Howland, moved Anderson back to his natural position at point guard. Under Alford's new wide-open offense, he played more confidently and displayed an improved jump shot. On November 22, 2013, he had 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in an 81–70 win over Morehead State; it was the school's first triple-double since Toby Bailey in 1995. On November 29, UCLA was co-champion of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational with Missouri, and Anderson was named the tournament's MVP, as the Bruins started the season with a 7-0 record. On February 27, Anderson and Jordan Adams missed one game after being suspended for a violation of team rules. Anderson was honored as the Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament, which UCLA won for their first conference tournament title in six years. In the championship game, Anderson contributed 21 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a 75–71 upset of No. 4 nationally ranked Arizona. "I don’t know that I’ve ever seen [those numbers] and just one turnover for a point guard,” said Arizona coach Sean Miller of Anderson's performance.
Averaging 14.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game, Anderson was called "the nation's top triple-double threat" by the Orange County Register. He led the team in both rebounds and assists and was voted the team's most valuable player (MVP). He also led the conference in assists, and was third in rebounds and steals (1.8) per game. He was the first player in Pac-12 history to register 200 rebounds and 200 assists in a season, as well as the first Division I player with at least 500 points, 300 rebounds and 200 assists in a season.[a] Anderson's field goal percentage improved by seven percentage points from his freshman year, while his three-point field goal percentage jump from 21 to 48 percent. The Associated Press and Sporting News named Anderson a third-team All-American, and he was voted to the All-Pac-12 first team as well as first team all-district by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). He was a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, given by USBWA to the most outstanding college player; along with Shabazz Napier, they were the only players to also be on the midseason watchlists for the Naismith College Player of the Year, John R. Wooden Award, and Bob Cousy Award.
On April 16, 2014, Anderson announced that he would forgo his remaining collegiate eligibility and enter the 2014 NBA draft. While he disproved detractors who thought his style would not translate to success at the major college level, critics also said his lack of quickness would be an impediment in the NBA. Many teams projected him as a power forward, with some comparing him to Boris Diaw, a longtime NBA player with point forward skills who also plays at a leisurely pace.
Generally projected as a late first-round pick, Anderson was selected in the first round with the 30th overall pick of the draft by the San Antonio Spurs, who had recently won the 2014 NBA Finals. On July 12, 2014, he signed with the Spurs and joined them for the Las Vegas Summer League. In six summer league games, he spent most of the time on the wing with some minutes at power forward, but rarely as a point guard. Anderson began the 2014–15 season as the team's lone new player, with the rest of its championship roster intact. The Spurs often rested its starters, resulting in playing time for Anderson. He made his NBA debut four games into the season, playing a team-high 31 minutes in a 98–81 loss to the Houston Rockets, while coach Gregg Popovich rested veteran stars Tim Duncan and Manu Ginóbili in the second game of a back-to-back set for the Spurs. Anderson shot just 1-of-8, but displayed his skill set with eight rebounds, four assists and two steals; he also acted as San Antonio's primary ball handler during the fourth quarter. On December 10 with five Spurs out due to a combination of injuries or rest, Anderson made his first NBA start and scored nine points in a 109–95 win over the New York Knicks. He continued to receive playing time while starting small forward Kawhi Leonard remained out for an extended period with a hand injury.
During his rookie season, he has also had multiple assignments with the Austin Spurs of the NBA Development League. On February 9, he was named the D-League Performer of the Week. Austin went 2–0 that week, while Anderson logged back-to-back double-doubles and averaged 19.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 blocks. He was named the NBA Development League Player of the Month for February, when he averaged 22.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists, leading Austin to an 8–1 record.
During the offseason, Anderson played with the Spurs in the 2015 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. In seven games, he averaged 21.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in 27.3 minutes, and was named the league's MVP. He became a regular part of San Antonio's rotation in 2015–16, appearing in 78 games while averaging 16 minutes. On March 28, 2016, he played 36 minutes and recorded 13 points, seven assists, and four steals in a 101–87 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. He established career highs in minutes and assists. Anderson had a career-high 11 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench in an April 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors. In the regular season finale, he had his first double-double in the NBA with 15 points and 10 rebounds, leading the short-handed Spurs to a 96–91 win over the Dallas Mavericks. He matched his career-high in points, while adding a career-best five steals.
Anderson participated in the Summer League again in 2016, and Spurs summer league coach Becky Hammon declared him the top player in the league. He averaged a league-high 23.7 points in three games in the Utah league, and followed up with averages of 18.5 points and six rebounds in two games in Las Vegas, when the Spurs sent him home after they were content he had nothing left to prove in the league. He played 72 games including 14 starts in 2016–17, but his overall performance regressed. The Spurs were eliminated from the playoffs in the Western Conference Finals, when Anderson scored a season-high 20 points and added seven rebounds and four steals in the season-ending Game 4 loss to the Golden State. Without any Summer League commitments for the first time as a pro, Anderson wanted to build off of his Game 4 performance. Over the summer, he worked on finishing shots around the rim and getting in shape to be light enough to play at guard or small forward while also being strong enough to also play at power forward.
With Leonard out an extended period with a quadriceps injury, Anderson began 2017–18 as a starter. At Oklahoma City on December 3, 2017, Anderson started at power forward in place of a resting LaMarcus Aldridge when he went down in obvious pain after suffering a Grade I strain to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) of his left knee in the third quarter. He required assistance off the floor and went directly to the locker room. He was subsequently ruled out for an estimated two weeks. Through 23 games, Anderson had been averaging career highs of 8.9 points, six rebounds and three assists. Popovich expected him to remain in the regular rotation even after Leonard returned. Anderson returned to action for the first time in nine games on December 20 against the Portland Trail Blazers. In March 2018, he was moved to power forward as the Spurs went to a smaller lineup with Aldridge at center and Pau Gasol moving to the bench. On March 19, he was the first NBA player in the season to be scoreless and yet still post a +30 plus-minus rating in an 89–75 win over the Warriors.
After the 2017–18 season, Anderson became a restricted free agent. On July 6, 2018, he received a four-year, $37.2 million offer sheet from the Memphis Grizzlies. The Spurs declined to match the offer and Anderson signed with the Grizzlies on July 9.
Anderson participated in U16 and U17 training camps for USA Basketball prior to being named to the 2009–10 USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team. In 2012, he started at power forward for the USA Basketball Junior National Select Team that competed at the Nike Hoop Summit, which featured the top American high school seniors against a team of international players aged 19 or younger.
Out of high school, Anderson was considered capable of playing any of four positions on the court, from point guard to power forward, drawing comparisons to basketball legends Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Anderson's high school coach Bob Hurley said, "I think he's a modern-day Magic Johnson. I think that let him play the point. He gets everybody shots. You don’t have him back defensively balancing the floor, you’re wasting him. But you let him do a lot of what the point guard stuff entails. But then also defensively you don’t bother guarding him on the little guy. Put him on maybe the three man or even sometimes the four man if he’s a step-out player. And now you have a guy like Larry Bird who anticipates. He gets a lot of deflections and steals. He’s long, he blocks shots. And then when he gets a defensive rebound, you got a fast-break started already." During his sophomore year in UCLA, CBSSports.com wrote that Anderson was "starting to look more and more like the Magic Johnson of the 2013–14 season in college basketball." ESPN analyst Dick Vitale warned against calling him the next Magic Johnson, but stated that "he has the mini-version of that kind of skill.” USA Today commented that he was "kind of a poor man's Magic Johnson".
The Seattle Times called Anderson the "[m]ost versatile player in years in the Pac-12." In 2014, SI.com said he "[m]ight be the most versatile player in the country." Rarely has a player of Anderson's stature—standing 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m) with a wingspan of 7 feet 3 inches (2.21 m)—been entrusted to run the offense of a college team. He was a unique talent with a size advantage to post up smaller defenders down low, and the ball-handling skills to run the offense from the top of the key. He was comfortable playing both in the post and on the perimeter, and could direct the offense as either a point guard or point forward. One of the top rebounding guards in college, Anderson was the rare point guard that could rebound the ball and single-handedly initiate a fast break. He was often described as a "nightmare" matchup for opponents.
Anderson plays at a deliberate pace, and he is not as fast as more athletically gifted players. Popovich stated that he is "not what you’d call a typical NBA athlete". However, Anderson is praised for his basketball IQ. He is able to change speeds and fake out his opponents to keep them off balance. His methodical style earned him the nickname "Slow Mo" in eighth grade in AAU, and the name has stuck with him. "[He] really understands how to use his speed—he's not super fast, but he's super bright and really knows how to use angles," said Kevin Boyle, who coached Anderson on the national team in 2012. USA Today described him as "languid but quick enough to lead the fast break". Anderson's defense was considered a weakness. In college, his teams usually played zone as he struggled containing smaller, quicker guards while playing man-to-man. His defense improved with the Spurs in 2017–18, when he guarded both forward positions while leveraging his wingspan and instincts.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
Anderson is the son of Kyle Sr. and Suzanne Anderson. His grandfather, Clifton Anderson, played college football at Indiana and had a two-year professional career in the National Football League (NFL) with the Chicago Cardinals in 1952 and the New York Giants in 1953. Anderson's maternal grandmother grew up in Jamaica; her father was Chinese and married a Jamaican woman, and they lived in Jamaica among the Chinese Jamaicans.
The other five players in that group include Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane, Michigan State’s Keith Appling, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier and Massachusetts’ Chaz Williams.
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