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The Orlando Magic selected North Carolina guard Cole Anthony with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
Bleacher Report Draft Expert Jonathan Wasserman’s Scouting Report
Player: Cole Anthony
Position: PG
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 190
Pro Comparison: Collin Sexton
Scouting Report: Once thought of as a potential No. 1 overall pick, Cole Anthony could now be the draft’s most undervalued prospect. Scoring point guards are in, and Anthony can create and shot-make with the best in the class. His stock took a hit due to questions about his efficiency and playmaking during a year in which he got hurt and had limited supporting talent at North Carolina. While he still has to improve as a decision-maker, Anthony has the the athleticism, pull-up game and confidence to light up defenses and scoreboards.
Here is a look at Anthony’s fit in his new team’s depth chart:
Magic Active Roster and Average Salary (Expiration Year)
Cole Anthony, PG: Rookie scale contract (2024)
Nikola Vucevic, C: $25M (2023)
Aaron Gordon, PF: $20M (2022)
Evan Fournier, SG: $17M (2021)
Terrence Ross, SG: $13.5M (2023)
Al-Farouq Aminu, PF: $9.7M (2022)
Markelle Fultz, PG: $9.4M (2021)
Jonathan Isaac, PF: $5.6M (2021)
Mohamed Bamba, C: $5.5M (2021)
Chuma Okeke, PF: $3.2M (2021)
Khem Birch, C: $3M (2021)
Melvin Frazier, SF: $1.2M (2021)
Free Agents
BJ Johnson, SF: RFA
DaQuan Jeffries, SF: RFA
D.J. Augustin, PG: UFA
Gary Clark, SF: RFA
James Ennis, SF: Player option
Melvin Frazier, SF: Team option
Michael Carter-Williams, PG: UFA
Wesley Iwundu, SF: RFA
To call Anthony’s lone season with the Tar Heels a failure would be a stretch, but it fell well short of expectations.
The son of former NBA veteran Greg Anthony, the 20-year-old was the No. 4 player in 247Sports’ composite rankings for 2019. Armando Bacot, a 5-star recruit and the No. 6 center, joined him on the way to Chapel Hill.
The departures of Kenny Williams, Cameron Johnson, Luke Maye, Nassir Little and Coby White proved too much for head coach Roy Williams, though. The team slumped to a 14-19 record.
Anthony missed nearly two months with a knee injury, which played a role in UNC’s downturn. The injury added to a somewhat inconsistent season from the New York native.
He flashed his obvious scoring talent, averaging 18.5 points, yet he shot only 38.0 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from beyond the arc. His playmaking was a mixed bag, too, as he dished out just 4.0 assists to 3.5 turnovers.
Still, few were surprised when Anthony declared for the 2020 draft because he was widely viewed as a first-round lock in a class bereft of any true can’t-miss superstars.
In his May 7 mock draft, Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman projected him as the No. 10 overall selection to the Phoenix Suns:
“Scouts sound split on Cole Anthony, and depending how the draft order plays out, a mini slide to No. 10 seems possible. […]
“Despite an inefficient freshman season, Anthony was given limited spacing on a poor shooting team that often played two bigs. He still managed 18.5 points, 4.0 assists and 2.2 threes while grading in the 92nd percentile out of isolation.
“While there are concerns about Anthony running an offense, there aren’t many about his ability to create and score.”
At 6’3″ and 190 pounds, Anthony doesn’t possess the ideal size to be a combo guard. His game should allow him to play on the ball as a lead playmaker, or move off the ball as a pure scorer to complement a more traditional point guard.
Based on how he performed with North Carolina, the Magic will have altered their outlook for what Anthony can deliver right out of the gate. The inability to evaluate him more attentively during predraft showcases didn’t help matters.
It’s easy to see why Orlando deemed him worthy of the investment, but Anthony won’t come without risk.
Markelle Fultz had a promising first full season in Orlando, but his shooting remains an issue, as he hit only 26.7 percent of his three-pointers. D.J. Augustin is a free agent this offseason as well.
Anthony will be a good complement to Fultz and the eventual replacement for Augustin.
The absence of a true foundational star is the Magic’s overarching problem. They’ve assembled a roster that appears to have a clear ceiling after back-to-back first-round playoff exits.
Perhaps Orlando will strike gold and watch Anthony blossom into an All-Star talent.