Antonio Andersons senior season ended in disappointment, when Memphis was eliminated from the Sweet 16 by streaking Missouri. Despite the loss, the fourth year shooting guard was able to display some of the different aspects of his game that will make him an appealing prospect to some team somewhere. In fact, the season as a whole was a major plus, as Anderson saw increases in nearly every major statistical category across the board in his last year with the Tigers.
When we last took a look at Anderson before the season began, the biggest knock against him was his lack of shooting ability and poor ball handling skills. With the year now over, we can say he made some marginal improvements in these areas, but still has a lot of work to do. Anderson shot a career best 45% from the floor this year, even while taking more shots. This was due in large part to the improvements he showed in his ability to finish in the lane. While last season, over 50% of his shots came in spot up situations, that number dropped to 34%, while there was a significant increase in the number of times he put the ball on the deck and attacked the rim. Anderson still struggles mightily with his perimeter game, seeing his three-point field goal percentage drop eight points from last year. The biggest issue in his form right now appears to be the tendency for his non-shooting elbow to fly out and alter his shot from time to time. This may be the biggest issue holding him back from establishing himself as an NBA player long term.
Anderson still does very well in transition thanks to his athleticism and hustle. He runs the floor well and when he gets momentum going proves to have pretty good leaping ability. Generally, this athleticism tends to disappear in the half court set for a few reasons. Despite having good quickness, the previously mentioned poor ball handling skills prevent the senior from beating most defenders off the dribble. While he may show good elevation when in a full sprint, Anderson is unable to explode when caught in traffic as he often is out of control with the ball by that point. With all of that said though, he does have a strong enough body that he can finish with contact in the lane. His hustle is also on constant display in the paint where he averages better than an offensive rebound per game, a good number for a perimeter player.
What proved to be the biggest eye opener with Anderson this season was with the ball in his hands more often this season, he proved to be an apt playmaker, averaging 4.5 assists per game. He has never been a big time scorer during his tenure at Memphis, but he proved that on nights when he isnt a scoring threat of any kind he can still be a major offensive factor. His 11-assist performance in a second round win over Maryland proved that statement to be true.
Defense will ultimately wind up being Andersons meal ticket in the long run. As has been mentioned in the past, the seniors size and wingspan allow him to cover any perimeter position and he has proven time and again to be more than up for the challenge of a tough scorer. He brings tremendous hustle to this end of the floor, fighting through screens and rebounding the basketball well. Anderson is a very smart defender, not often biting on fakes but rather playing with his feet and bodying up opponents when it is necessary. His combination of strength, intensity and lateral quickness makes it very difficult for players to beat him off the dribble.
At the beginning of the season we posed the question, will Anderson step up as a senior or continue to be a role player for Memphis. The answer has been a little bit of both. While he saw improvements in his numbers and offensive game this year, he was still not a main option for the Tigers when they had the basketball. Ultimately, Anderson may not stick in the NBA unless he improves his perimeter shooting significantly, but he will certainly play somewhere overseas where he has the potential to be a solid player. His size and athleticism make him an appealing prospect as does his defensive prowess. With a couple of weeks left until many of the pre draft camps begin, Anderson will have some time to work on his game before getting the chance to showcase himself in front of GMs and scouts.