SAN ANTONIO (AP) - UCLA forward Kyle Anderson was regarded as one of the most talented passers and more unselfish players in the NBA draft this season.
Joining the league’s most unselfish and best passing team almost seems too good to be true for the 20-year-old Anderson, who was picked by the Spurs with the 30th selection of the NBA draft Thursday night.
“My first reaction is wow,” Anderson said. “Watching the Spurs since last year’s playoffs, I could really tell how well they share the ball. Everybody gets everybody involved. I think that’s one of my best attributes coming into this league. I think I could fit in with the offense really well once I get to learn it.”
Anderson, who left the Bruins after his sophomore season, averaged 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists. The 6-foot-9 forward was the first player in Pac-12 history to record 200 rebounds and 200 assists in the same season.
“His whole skill level, it’s a really interesting game,” Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said. “He passes probably as well as the best passer in the draft, terrific rebounding numbers (and) multiple-position player. He has just been a winner. You don’t expect guys that look like him picking with the last pick in the first round.”
Buford said Anderson’s position in the NBA is still undecided given his skill set and size, but that the 230-pound forward would work that out with coach Gregg Popovich.
Anderson’s place with San Antonio could be impacted by the free-agency plans of Boris Diaw, the 6-9 forward whose passing helped sparked the Spurs’ five-game victory over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
“He’s a great player to watch,” Anderson said of Diaw. “He’s great the way he can share the ball (and) can knock down open shots. He’s a great teammate. Just those qualities can take you very far in the league and that’s what it’s done with him.”
Diaw, along with Patty Mills and Matt Bonner, is an unrestricted free agent and Aron Baynes is a restricted free agent. Most, if not all, are expected to return as San Antonio attempts to win its sixth NBA championship. The Spurs averaged 22 assists per game last season, crediting their unselfish play with the ability to overcome Miami’s superstar trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
San Antonio selected shooting guard Jordan McRae of Tennessee with the 58th pick and power forward Cory Jefferson of Baylor with the 60th and final pick, but sent both to Philadelphia for Nemanja Dangubic, a 6-8 swingman who has spent the past three seasons playing in Serbia.
With Tim Duncan exercising his $10.4 million player option to return for his 19th season rather than retire, the Spurs do not have an immediate need. Depth was one of the team’s biggest strengths last season, with its bench averaging a league best 45.1 points per game during the regular season and 41 points in the playoffs.
“I’m going to a great organization in general,” Anderson said. “Guys really care about developing their players and that’s something you can see from the outside looking in watching such a great team like that and great coaches. So, I’m just really excited to be a part of it.”
The bench could play an even larger role next season.
In addition to continuing to limit the minutes of veterans Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the team’s depth could ease the early stress for several Spurs who are playing for their respective national teams this summer.
Ginobili will play for Argentina and Mills and Baynes for Australia and in the FIBA Basketball World Cup beginning Aug. 30 in Spain. NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard will attempt to make the U.S. team.