Cole Anthony is Becoming a Master of the Pull-Up Jumper

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - Some players have a knack for shooting off the dribble. Cole Anthony, now in his second season with the Orlando Magic, is one of them.

The numbers don’t lie. On pull-ups, Anthony is shooting 50.9 percent overall and 56 percent from 3-point range. Just how good are those percentages?

Incredibly good.

Think about this: There’s only one player in the league with a better percentage on pull-ups with at least 40 attempts. That man is Kevin Durant, one of the greatest pure scorers in NBA history. The Brooklyn Nets superstar is shooting 57 percent on pull-ups, which is kind of insane. Very few players shoot over 50 percent on pull-ups in a season.

Only one player with at least 100 attempts did it last season. That was the Indiana Pacers’ T.J. McConnell. Nobody did it in 2019-20. Rudy Gay, then playing for the San Antonio Spurs, did it in 2018-19.

Even crazier is Anthony’s pull-up shooting from beyond the arc. He’s made 14 of his 25 pull-up 3-point attempts. In fact, Anthony and Kemba Walker are the only players with at least 20 3-point pull-up tries shooting at least 50 percent.

The question coming into the season was whether the 6-foot-3 combo guard could be a more efficient scorer. Nobody has ever questioned his confidence. Nobody has ever questioned his mentality. Nobody has ever questioned his offensive creativity. But many questioned whether he can score efficiently.

Through eight games at least, he’s been very efficient. That was exemplified during the Magic’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, especially in the fourth quarter when he scored 14 of his 31 points.

“If you believe that every shot goes in, it usually goes in your favor. That’s just how I feel,” he said afterwards.

The step-back jumper is looking smooth. So far this season, he’s made six of his 10 step-backs, per Second Spectrum tracking data. That’s a shot mastered by few. If Anthony can continue hitting these types of shots, it’s going to be extremely tough for opponents to contain him.

There’s more good news. Anthony is much more than just a scorer. He’s been making sharp passes. His rebounding is off the charts for someone his size. Currently, he’s averaging 7.6 boards per game. Only nine players 6-foot-3 or shorter in NBA history have ever averaged at least seven boards in a single season, per Stathead. Only two have ever averaged at least eight – Russell Westbrook and Fat Lever, four times each.

Anthony has yet to record a triple-double in his pro career. But it seems inevitable. He’s come close a few times. Don’t be surprised if by season’s end he has more than one of them on his resume.

Oh, and he’s playing good defense, too. Anthony has drawn two charges, a Magic “bell play.” He’s been hustling as well. So far, he’s collected 10 loose balls, the most on the Magic.

The bottom line is there’s a lot to like about his development. As is the case for each of the Magic’s young players, it’s going to be exciting to watch him as he continues to mature and grow.

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