Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

UCLA Basketball: Should Bruins' Offense Revolve Around Kyle Anderson?

The UCLA men’s basketball team has been impressive offensively through 18 games this season, but lately their consistency has begun to waver.

The Bruins are averaging 77.6 points per game, and have been shooting better than 47% from the field, ranking 23rd and 25th in the nation in these stats, respectively. UCLA’s 10 game winning streak was broken last Saturday in a loss to the Oregon Ducks, where the Bruins only scored 67 points, 10 less than their season average. Larry Drew II has been UCLA’s most efficient offensive playmaker, averaging 8.1 assists and less than 2 turnovers per contest, but Kyle Anderson has perhaps been their most effective playmaker.

Kyle Anderson’s is a better playmaker than his 3.7 assists per game numbers. His passes start fast breaks and lead to easy shots or dimes by other players. Anderson’s shooting also plays a factor in creating points for others. He shoots 49% from inside the arc, and because of his height and ball-handling skills, defenses must respect his drive to the basket. Larry Drew II has been great at dishing out assists, but he lacks confidence in his shooting ability, and opposing defenses do not expect him to look to score at all. The help defense that Anderson attracts in the paint creates opportunities to get the ball to the open teammate for a high quality look at the basket.

Employing this strategy on offense could prove very helpful for every Bruin player, especially two freshmen that have been struggling from the field as of late, Jordan Adams and Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad and Adams lead the team in scoring this season, but both have struggled to shoot efficiently. Over the last 6 games, Adams has shot only 32.7% from the field, while Muhammad has been a bit better at 41%. Designating Kyle Anderson as the primary ball handler on offense would get Muhammad who’s more of a slasher, higher quality looks at the rim. Adams would also benefit with higher quality jump shots.

The UCLA Bruins have had some great scoring outbursts this season and aren’t struggling to put points on the board, but they have so much potential with all these freshmen performing at such a high level. Coach Ben Howland has made a great move this season, changing his offensive strategy to accommodate the athleticism and youth of this squad. Trusting Kyle Anderson and his high basketball IQ with more responsibility running the offense could be a decision that makes Howland look like the “genius” Bruins fans thought he was when he got the job.

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Tags: Basketball Kyle Anderson

  • GoJoeBruinUCLA

    I think this needs to happen. Drew is a good point man but he is not the game-changer Anderson is, that much is clear right now.

  • c2blum

    YES! Think he can find players in position to score much better than Drew III, who luckily gets half? his assists off T. Wear jump shots! Not exactly UCLA’s best offensive strategy

    • GoJoeBruinUCLA

      Yeah, I mean, I think Larry Drew II is very good and all but Kyle Anderson is a serious stud.

  • disqus_lnNSzPRyV4

    Ummm…in a word, “no”, at least not if by “revolve around Kyle Anderson” you mean in terms of him playing more point guard. Anderson is too casual and careless with the ball. That is the genius of Drew at the point: he is above all careful and looks almost purely to feed the scorers with solid passes. I cringe every time Anderson touches the ball in pressure situations. As an example, he had 4 turnovers, some very ill-timed, that almost let Arizona back in tonight’s game. Reckless is he. Not ready to be a Jedi yet.

    • GoJoeBruinUCLA

      He so did not almost let Zona back in the game. Anderson’s ball-handling skills are impressive and he’s a total game-changer. This is not a knock on LD2 because he’s a solid point man but he’s serviceable, and has no potential to be elite.