The 2023 FIBA World Cup is now just a month away, and as such, nations are continuing to scour around to bolster their team. It’s different whenever hoop pride is on the line.
China, a perennial Asian powerhouse, got themselves a nice boost: Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson.
It gave us fans a nice trivia about his family too, which also answered the perceived randomness of naturalizing for China instead of a more globally established basketball country.
In any case, the nine-year NBA veteran should be a solid addition to plenty of countries, including China, who aren’t pushovers but can definitely take all the help it can get. He will join a team that boasts the twin tower tandem of former Houston Rockets big man Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin.
Anderson is fresh-off a good, first-year campaign with the Timberwolves, where he’s been playing a commendable role on an upstart team. He averaged well-rounded numbers of 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, a career-best 4.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per game for the 2022-23 season, pairing it with a respectable 50.9% clip, which includes an efficient 41% from beyond the arc. Despite experiencing a nip-and-tuck affair in the standings, they group finished 42-20, advanced in the play-ins, and eventually earned the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
The T-Wolves exited the 2023 playoffs after losing to the eventual Champion Denver Nuggets in five games, but they arguably gave the champs its toughest postseason challenge, a statement echoed by ex-Nugget forward Bruce Brown.
Anderson chipped in nicely by displaying great effort on both ends, particularly as a disruptor on defense and a timely contributor on offense. He registered 8.5 points, 4.0 boards, 4.5 dimes, and 1.8 steals in 26.0 minutes per game.
Though widely known for his lack of quickness, hence the career-long nickname “Slow Mo,” Anderson is also considered as an all-around player, one that has a knack of affecting games in a variety of facets. He is a methodical decision-maker, be it for facilitating, on-ball defense, grabbing a rebound, or playing the passing lanes. Such reputation has followed him from his college days at UCLA, and also proved further during his prior stints with the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies.
Now entering international ball for China, it will be interesting to see how well he can translate all that in a whole new environment. He is mixing his skillset on an offense that will try to feature a pair of big men, and distribute the rest of the touches into a crop of wings and guards. Note that they are also coached by Serbian Aleksandar Djordjevic, who’s only in his second year at the helm and preaches the old school, hard-nosed, team-oriented style.
It’s a question mark for now, but Anderson’s response to this new lane can be telling. This is a great opportunity for him to come in, create a better flow on offense, and open up avenues for everyone. If he does well, it might help raise his stock in the NBA.
Anderson and China will be in Group B. They are alongside Serbia (also Djordjevic’s former team), Puerto Rico, and FIBA neophytes South Sudan.