From now until the start of the regular season I will be doing a few pieces on certain players who I think are on the rise of having a great year after not really having a great season last year. The first person I am talking about in this new series is recent NBA summer league MVP Kyle Anderson.
Anderson was drafted 30th overall in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs, who were also champions at the time. It is definitely a perfect scenario for a 20-year-old player to get drafted by a great dynasty with Gregg Popovich as the head man.
His rookie year had his ups as well as downs. While coach Pop rested some of the regular starters like Tim Duncan and Tony Parker it gave Anderson some nice playing time. In his first NBA game, he played a team-high 31 minutes against the Houston Rockets but struggled shooting going 1-for-8 from the field. The next game? DNP-CD (Did Not Play, Coach’s Decision). He had multiple stints with the Spurs D-League Affiliate, the Austin Spurs, and ended up playing 33 games (8 starts) in the regular season, not even suiting up for the postseason.
2014-15 regular season averages: 2.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.2 blocks in 10.3 minutes per game.
Let’s now fast forward to summer league in which Anderson dominated, not necessarily with big time dunks or hitting 3-pointers from the corner, but driving into the lane and also dishing out some nice assists. He is nicknamed “Slow Mo” because of his ability to change speeds to confuse opponents at certain times. He led the San Anotio Spurs to a 5-1 record, earning MVP honors.
Spurs F Kyle Anderson wins 2015 NBA Summer League MVP. Anderson averaged 22.0 Pts and 5.8 Reb in 6 games. pic.twitter.com/QlswotQ9pM
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 20, 2015
He was named MVP before winning the summer league championship (a game in which he scored 15 points). His final summer league averages were 21.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.9 assist and 1.1 steals in 7 games.
So now we look at his sophomore season and what to expect from him. As of now he is a backup to Kawhi Leonard and I do not think he will outplay him enough to start over Leonard, especially after signing him to a massive contract this past offseason. However, not knocking down Kawhi because I am a huge fan, but there have been concerns with his injury history these past couple of seasons (missed 18 games this past season, 16 the year before & 24 before that). With that being said, we can definitely see Anderson taking over the starting small forward spot if a situation like that happens. If Leonard is healthy, then Anderson can come off the bench and lead the second team, which usually gets a lot of playing time under the Gregg Popovich system.
After a rough start in his rookie year he turned a lot of heads in the summer league and I think he can be something special and another successful late draft pick from the San Antonio Spurs.