Cole Anthony is developing into the player the Orlando Magic need

Cole Anthony is showing growth and maturing for the Orlando Magic in his second season. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Cole Anthony is showing growth and maturing for the Orlando Magic in his second season. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Playing point guard in the NBA today is harder than it has ever been.

Imagine being a 21-year-old point guard in your second season having to go up against the likes of Stephen Curry, Trae Young or Damian Lillard on a nightly basis. But having a quality point guard is almost a prerequisite to making a deep run in the playoffs.

Orlando has two, maybe three, starting quality point guards on the roster in Cole Anthony, rookie Jalen Suggs and injured former No. 1 pick, Markelle Fultz.

Although he has struggled with his shooting so far this season, Anthony looks primed for a breakout. That would be just what the Orlando Magic need as they look to build a foundation for the future with first-year coach Jamahl Mosley.

Cole Anthony has been pushed into the Orlando Magic’s starting lineup quickly once again. The second-year player has displayed poise as he tries to guide this young team and set their pace.

While confidence has never been an issue for the point guard from North Carolina, Anthony has been more assertive with his play on the offensive end. This comes while playing in a new system, with a new coach, and an almost completely different starting lineup from a season ago.

Cole Anthony’s all-around game has started to emerge this season and he has flirted with triple-doubles already. Surely a few will be on the horizon this season.

Anthony stepped up in a big way with 29 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists in the Orlando Magic’s win over the New York Knicks. He followed that with 24 points, five rebounds and six assists two games later against the Charlotte Hornets.

In each instance, Anthony showed he has better command over the game and the potential to be something more than a scorer.

He has always been a fantastic rebounder for his size and position. His rebounding skills were on display in Orlando’s first win of the season over New York. Anthony pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds against a good Knicks squad.

Anthony said after the game rebounding was all about desire. And he showed plenty of that.

Just as he has shown plenty of desire to improve his game in other areas, especially as a playmaker.

"“Cole’s decision-making has been good,” coach Jamahl Mosley said after Wednesday’s loss to the Hornets. “He’s trying to make all the right plays. I don’t know if you remember there was a play in the first quarter we come down in transition and, he said it, ‘I was going to pull that three.’ He stopped and made the extra pass. I think we got a wide-open three for someone else. It’s those decisions as the game goes on he is going to keep getting better and better as he learns to make the quick and right decision.”"

Even a play like this one where Anthony drives the baseline, he might have looked to force a shot at the rim instead of finding the outlet in the shooter in the corner.

Orlando will need Anthony to continue improving his decision-making as the season progresses.

The next step for Anthony will be his consistency in shooting the ball from deep. He has started the season shooting only 31-percent from the three-point line while attempting seven attempts per game. This is usually an area of opportunity for young players in the league as they adjust to the longer three-point line distance.

If Anthony can finish this season around 35-36-percent, that would be a huge benefit for Orlando.

Anthony still has a lot more to develop. He is still seeking his place in the league. And his second season in the league will go a long way to determining what his ideal role might be.

"“It’s just a matter of reading the game,” Anthony said after Wednesday’s loss to the Hornets. “The way I look at it is: Be aggressive to score. If they don’t stop you, go score. If they come and help, that means somebody is open. If you draw two, someone is open for s hot. That’s when you start drive and kicks and creates problems for the defense. If you are aggressive to pass, it’s hard to go to scoring mode after that. I’m looking to score first but still make the right play.”"

But Anthony’s presence on the team has gone well beyond his contributions statistically on the court.

With the Magic entering this season with the third-youngest roster in the league, leadership is going to be a vital part of their growth. The only veterans on the team who play significant minutes are Gary Harris and Terrence Ross.

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Anthony will be called upon to take a leadership role as many of the Magic’s minutes are going to players in their first three seasons.

Anthony has an infectious personality. Fans have latched onto him and it is easy to see on the bench as much as on social media how much he goes to bat for his teammates.

As he finds more consistency with his play on the court, players will start to follow his lead.

Orlando will look for Anthony to build chemistry on and off the court with other foundational players like Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter.

Orlando is playing with house money right now as expectations are low. They have a few nice players to build around for the future and Anthony might have the highest upside of them all.

His development in the next couple of seasons will affect the progress Orlando makes as an organization.

With Anthony’s passion for the game, high basketball IQ and overall skill level, the sky is the limit.

Next. Orlando Magic must focus on the little things and stay patient. dark

If he stays healthy, there is no reason Anthony should not develop into a top point guard over the next few seasons in this guard-dominated league. That would be music to the ears of the entire Orlando Magic organization.