The Dallas Mavericks have selected forward Justin Anderson with No. 21 pick in 2015 NBA draft on Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Anderson averaged 12.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for the Virginia as a junior. He missed eight games late in the season due to a fractured pinkie finger and an appendectomy. He could not recover in time to save Virginia from a round of 32 loss to the Michigan State Spartans. He still earned individual honors and was named to the all-ACC second team.
After growing up in Virginia, Anderson stayed in-state for college, committing to Virginia over Maryland, Texas and Virginia Tech. He assumed secondary roles his first two seasons in Charlottesville, averaging under eight points per game before breaking out his junior year.
The 6'6", 228-pound forward is the first Cavalier selected in the first round since Cory Alexander was picked in 1995.
Strengths: Anderson anchored Virginia’s stellar defense, using his long arms and quickness to guard perimeter players and his strength to match up with bigger players in the post. He has also developed an offensive game to match his defense, shooting 46.6% from the field and 45.2% from three-point range last season, up dramatically from 40.7% and 29.4%, respectively, in 2013-14. His improvement from behind the three-point line—which follows dramatic changes in his shooting form—is especially encouraging. He could fit easily on any NBA roster as a prototypical “three and D” wing. He’s also an athletic leaper who wouldn’t be out of place in a dunk contest.
Weaknesses: Anderson’s offensive game still could use work. He can’t do much in isolation situations, and he made fewer than half of his two-point attempts each of his three years at Virginia. Sub-par ball-handling skills prevent him from being a go-to option on offense. He’ll need to improve his handle to contribute as an NBA guard. As it is, he’s a bit of a ‘tweener on offense, with a skill set more befitting of a small forward at the professional level. He also needs to show that his sudden shooting improvement was no fluke. If the shooting ability he showed as a junior can’t be sustained, opponents will ignore him on offense.