SALT LAKE CITY — During his media interview following Friday’s pre-draft workout, Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin reversed roles for a moment and asked reporters a question about UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.
When asked what position the 6-foot-9 playmaker projects to in the NBA, Perrin smiled at the reporter and inquired, “What position do you think he is?” One reporter said he’ll be a small forward.
“OK,” Perrin said, “he’s a three.”
Another media member said he’s a one.
“OK,” Perrin said, “he’s a point guard.”
The Jazz exec then simply summed up what Anderson’s true position really is because of his “unique” set of skills, which includes being able to orchestrate an offense and score but doesn’t include an ability to zip around the court very quickly.
“He’s a player,” Perrin said.
Anderson started at UCLA for two seasons before entering the draft after his sophomore season, following the Bruins’ Sweet 16 run in March.
His claim to fame?
OK, besides being called Slo Mo?
Anderson came closer than any other NCAA player to averaging a triple-double last season. The third-team All-American scored 14.6 points with 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game, and that’s in spite of having less-than-stellar foot speed and lateral mobility.
“He’s such a unique player,” Perrin said. “He handles the ball like a point guard. He passes the ball like a point guard. He’s got length like a power forward.”
The challenge, Perrin admitted, will come on the defensive end where Anderson would have to switch away from the point guard to guard another position. But his offensive versatility might more than make up for any deficiencies on the opposite end of the court.
Perrin hesitated to go where others have in making a comparison of a former 6-9 point guard, but he couldn’t resist bringing up Magic Johnson’s name when describing Anderson’s game. This younger player from a SoCal team, however, doesn’t have the athleticism that Johnson had back in his Hall of Fame career.
Call him a poverty-stricken man’s Magic Johnson.
Anderson smiled when asked what position he envisions himself playing in the NBA.
"Not sure. I'm not sure what position," he said. "I think I can play a lot of different positions, which helps me. It's to my advantage."
It really boils down to what his next team needs, Anderson added.
“The guy knows how to play, (how) to make his teammates better, create shots for himself and his teammates,” Perrin said, adding that Anderson, a 45.2 percent shooter in college, didn’t have his shooting day. “I thought he had a pretty good workout.”
Anderson, who worked out with Arkansas State's Melvin Johnson, Tennessee's Jeronne Maymon, Dayton's Devin Oliver, Southeast Missouri State's Tyler Stone and Delaware's Davon Usher, said he got bombarded with Boris Diaw comments and comparisons on Twitter during the Spurs’ Game 4 blowout of the Heat.
And he’s fine with that comparison, because the San Antonio big man has a tendency of making smart basketball plays and of helping set up his teammates, even if it’s simply doing a good job of advancing the ball and helping his team score with "hockey assists."
Anderson believes his court vision and passing — "my gift to find the open man," as he called it — are his most NBA-ready skills.
"I think my ability to pass the ball is my biggest strength," he said.
The 21-year-old is penciled in as a late first-rounder by multiple mock drafts and is ranked as the No. 28 player in this class by ESPN’s Chad Ford. The Jazz might be tempted to pick him up with their 23rd pick.
“It’s been up and down. I don’t really want to listen to it (draft projection talk),” Anderson said. “I just want to focus on what I can control, and when that night comes, wherever I go I’ll be happy. I’m just a happy kid to be a part of this process, and I’m ready to get to work. That’s all.”3 comments on this story
So, about that Slo Mo moniker?
"It's all fun with the fans. It's a great nickname. I embrace it. I guess I get it from my methodical way of playing," Anderson said moments before Perrin described his foot speed as being "a bit below average" for a player his size.
"I don't really think I'm slow, so I don't look at it as a negative nickname. I enjoy it. The people love it. My friends love it, so I get a kick out of it."