Cole Anthony’s self-confidence has always been evident.
Whether it’s during a post-game interview at Bally Sports Florida or at the end of a close game, the Orlando Magic’s sophomore belief in what he and his team can accomplish is consistently palpable.
So his response to what he learned about himself in the 2021-22 season shouldn’t be surprising.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I can be really good in this league,” Anthony said. “This is personally what I believe. I could have a shot at being an All-Star. It’s how I feel. You may disagree, I really don’t care. I will keep working”.
It looked like Anthony’s move to start the season would earn him All-Star and Most Improved Player consideration.
Anthony, the 15th pick of the 2020 draft, averaged 20 points (41.8% shooting, 35.4% 3-pointing), 6 rebounds and 5.8 assists in his first 24 games. He was the player the Magic leaned on in the decisive moments.
But after his hot start, Anthony averaged 14.2 points (37.1% shooting, 32.4% in 3s), 5.6 assists and 5 rebounds in his final 41 games, including averaging 13.8 points. (33.3% shooting, 22.7% in 3s), 6.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds in January.
While his season-long averages of 16.3 points, 5.7 assists and 5.4 rebounds in 31.7 minutes increased production, his shooting divisions (43.2% on 2 points, 33.8% on 3 points) were similar to their rookie season.
There were several reasons for Anthony’s decline in production and efficiency.
Opposing teams began to notice Anthony’s game improvement and he became a higher priority in opponent scouting reports.
Anthony also leans on difficult shots, with his 4 field shot attempts after more than seven dribbles accounting for nearly 30% of his shots (14 per game).
Ankle injuries – he missed 14 of 22 games from mid-November to early January because of a sprained right ankle – did not help either, slowing his progress, although he appeared in 41 of the final 44 games.
Through shooting fights, Anthony, who has a reputation as a shooting guard, has continued to make strides as both passer and playmaker. He improved connecting with pitchers in drive and shooting and showed more willingness to deliver the ball faster.
Anthony’s average seconds per touch (4.99) and dribbling per touch (4.41) were lower than last season.
“He continues to work to do a good job of figuring out when to make the right move, when to hit the big punch. [and] when you move the basketball,” said Magic coach Jamahl Mosley. “That will be an ongoing level of growth.”
Anthony said he will focus on developing various parts of his game, especially in the weight room.
“I’ve been telling everyone ‘when you see me in the summer I’m going to be strong,'” Anthony said. “They’re going to be like, ‘Damn, Cole. Is it Eric Bledsoe? That’s one of the things. I will work on all aspects of my game. There is no such thing as perfection.”
Being stronger is expected to help Anthony with his edge struggles. He scored under 56% less than a meter from the rim, a below-average mark according to Cleaning The Glass, both seasons of his career.
“Being labeled a minor guard, I have to try to figure out my opportunities,” said Anthony, who is listed at 6-3 and 190 pounds. “Getting stronger will help a lot with that. That’s not the only thing I’m going to improve on. I will continue to improve in all aspects of my game.”
This offseason and the 2022-23 season will be crucial for Anthony.
He is entering the third year of his rookie contract with a $5.54 million team option for the 2023-24 season.