Lakers Nation Draft Prospect Watch: Justin Anderson

Lakers Nation Draft Prospect Watch: Justin Anderson

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Justin Anderson
Position: Small Forward
School: University of Virginia
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 222 pounds
Wingspan: 6’11”
Current Prospect Rank: No. 19 (NBADraft.net), No. 20 (Chad Ford), No. 24 (DraftExpress)
Projected Draft Position: Mid-to-Late First Round
Player Comparison: Trevor Ariza
Feature Game: Saturday, February vs. #4 Duke University

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Strengths:

Justin Anderson is a strong wing who can knock down clutch shots as well as create highlight plays on either end of the court. A Montross, Virginia native, he has shown the ability to finish at the rim, improved his offensive efficiency and play solid defense.

Anderson is a good defender on a Virginia team that allows the least amount of points in the country (49.2). Sporting an NBA-ready body, he has the natural ability to defend multiple positions and make plays on that end of the court. In the quarterfinals of the 2013 NIT Tournament, Anderson managed to block five shots against the University of Iowa.

Where he has shown major improvement this season is on the offensive end. In addition to doubling his points per game to over 14, his efficiency on that end of the floor has improved dramatically. He is shooting just under 54 percent from three-point range in his junior season. If he can maintain close to that level of shooting, it will really increase his value.

Weaknesses:

Anderson will need to work on a few things before the 2015 NBA Draft to be considered a complete player.

More of a straight-line finisher, Anderson lacks the ball-handling skills to be able to create for himself at this point. Currently relying more on teammates to get him open shots, Anderson not only struggles to create for himself, but also for others as he averages less than two assists per game.

Despite his outstanding athleticism and length, Anderson has not put up the kind of rebounding numbers you would expect. He is averaging only four rebounds this year, which is his high in three years at Virginia. He also doesn’t collect too many steals or blocks, though that isn’t necessarily an indication of his defensive skill.

Fit With Lakers:

Anderson’s appeal comes on the defensive end as he can lockdown multiple positions due to his speed, length, and athleticism. The Los Angeles Lakers could definitely use someone who can help defend some of the talented the guards and forwards around the league.

Top-tier free agents jelling with capable young players will help the Lakers expedite the process of returning to contention in the Western Conference. Combining Anderson with guys like Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Tarik Black would give the Lakers a toughness and edge on both ends of the floor.

NBA scouts are surely to be in attendance as Virginia’s next opponent, the #4 Duke Blue Devils, have center Jahlil Okafor, who many see as the No. 1 prospect for the upcoming draft. Virginia will have a tough two weeks as the next three games for the undefeated Cavaliers will come against teams in the top-15 of the country.

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