Cole Anthony Did Something Only Two Other Rookies Since 1996 Have Done

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - Since the 1996-97 season, only three NBA players in their rookie campaign have made two or more last-second game-winning shots. One of them is the Orlando Magic’s Cole Anthony, who most recently drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer with one-tenth of a second left against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night at Amway Center.

The other two players who accomplished this in their first year in the NBA, per Stathead, were Tyreke Evans in 2009-10 and Trae Young in 2018-19. Each of their game winners, however, were two-point shots, meaning Anthony is the only rookie since 1996-97 to make a pair of game-winning threes with under a second remaining and one of five rookies to make at least one.

ROOKIES WITH TWO LAST-SECOND GAME WINNERS SINCE 1996-97

Player
Team
Season
Cole Anthony
Magic
2020-21
Trae Young
Hawks
2018-19
Tyreke Evans
Kings
2009-10

ROOKIES WITH LAST-SECOND GAME-WINNING 3-POINTER SINCE 1996-97

Player
Team
Opponent
Game Date
Time Left
Cole Anthony
Magic
Grizzlies
May 1, 2021
0.1 seconds
Cole Anthony
Magic
Timberwolves
Jan. 20, 2021
Buzzer
Tyler Ulis
Suns
Celtics
March 5, 2017
Buzzer
Emmanuel Mudiay
Nuggets
76ers
March 23, 2016
Buzzer
Damian Lillard
Blazers
New Orleans Hornets
Dec. 16, 2012
0.3 seconds
Nate Robinson
Knicks
76ers
Nov. 26, 2005
Buzzer

In 2020-21, Anthony is one of just two rookies to make at least one game winner with less than a second left. The other is Boston’s Payton Pritchard, who connected on a putback layup with two-tenths of a second remaining on Jan. 6 at Miami.

Anthony’s first game winner came on Jan. 20 at Minnesota when he raced down the floor after gathering a rebound off a missed free throw and hit a triple at the buzzer.

The 6-foot-2 guard is now the sixth player in Magic franchise history to make a pair of game-winning shots in the final second in the same season. Darrell Armstrong in 1999, Hedo Turkoglu in 2007-08, Tobias Harris in 2014-15, Nikola Vucevic in 2015-16 and Evan Fournier in 2018-19 are the others.

Since returning from a rib injury that forced him to miss 25 games, Anthony has averaged 14.9 points on 42.9 percent shooting from the field and 33.9 percent from 3-point range. He has scored in double figures in 13 of those 14 games, including tallying a career-best 26 points in the win over the Grizzlies on Saturday.

What we’ve learned most about the soon-to-be 21-year-old is that he isn’t afraid of the big moment. He’s made it clear he wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line and right now, unquestionably, he’s the best person on the Magic for that job.

“Crunch time, I said this a few games ago, I want that ball,” he said. “I want to go get it for my team. Whether that means making the right play to get it to someone else for them to get a bucket or that means going and taking and making a big shot. I just want to get that dub (win) for the team.”

He wasn’t the only one to make a clutch shot against Memphis, though. R.J. Hampton, who had a career-best 18 points, buried a 3-pointer to pull Orlando within three with 1:38 left and Moritz Wagner, signed earlier in the week for the remainder of the season, knocked down a tying trey on the Magic’s next possession.

“Great heart. Shows a lot of character,” Magic acting head coach Tyrone Corbin said of the team, which rallied back from 20 points down in the third quarter. “They stuck together. Stayed with the game plan and picked it up a little bit when things didn’t look well. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves. They just found it within what they had in their body and their mind to fight their way through it and gave themselves a chance and good things happened as a result of it.”

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