LAS VEGAS - Most Spurs fans know James Anderson's story by now. He's a former Big 12 Player of the Year drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, was injured during draft workouts so he missed Summer League.
Anderson started the 2010-2011 season showing promise until he went down with a stress fracture in his foot after six games. He wasn't the same when he came back two months later and never got back into the Spurs' rotation, in part thanks the emergence of Gary Neal. The NBA Lockout ruined Anderson's chance to improve from season one to season two within the Spurs' system.
When the lockout was lifted Anderson apparently looked great in the Spurs truncated training camp and entered the season as their sixth man.
Anderson struggled to find his shot early in the season and lost his spot in the Spurs rotation to Danny Green after Green helped spark a Spurs comeback against Golden State and then exploded for 24 points and seven rebounds three nights later against Denver. The Spurs then declined Anderson's option on the third year of his contract, making him a free agent at the end of the season.
Now Anderson is in fact a free agent, but there he was Sunday night at Cox Pavilion, starting at shooting guard for the Spurs Summer League team. He's not the focal point of the offense like he would've been the last two Summer Leagues that weren't. He's not guaranteed a roster spot like he was the last two Summer Leagues that weren't. But there he was, a two year veteran but a Summer League rookie, working on his game, listening to Summer League coach Jacque Vaughn's instruction and doing what is asked of him. After the Spurs' 82-76 victory Anderson said he was more occupied on improving his game than finding a team to play for this fall.
"I just play. I don’t worry about nothing. I put it all in God’s hands. I just go out and play," Anderson said. "Instead of scoring, I’m here to come and just show that I can play on both ends.”
Anderson was known as a scorer coming out of Oklahoma State and while the tools were there for him to be a good defender, it wasn't something he hung his hat on. Anderson made it a point to tell us he was someone a coach can count on on the defensive side of the ball. It was just one game, but Anderson was tasked with chasing Atlanta Hawks first round pick John Jenkins, a sharp shooter from Vanderbilt, and did a terrific job on him. I'd even go as far to say his on-ball defense was on par with and maybe even a little better than Kawhi Leonard's.
As we've covered once or twice on this site, the Spurs are a little heavy at the shooting guard position. Despite that and his desire for playing time, Anderson says he wants to be wearing silver and black again next summer.
"Who wouldn’t want to stay in San Antonio with a program like that?" Anderson said. "But you know after this I’ll figure out what I can do."
One thing about Anderson is he seemed incredibly relaxed in the Summer League atmosphere. He didn't get a ton of touches, but when he did he showed an ability to get to the basket and finish around the rim or get a foul called. He let the game come to him, which normally would be surprising for a former first round draft pick suddenly out of work. But if you listen to Anderson talk for a few minutes, you realize it's not surprising at all. James Anderson sounds confident and he sounds like he's having fun playing basketball.
"I’m not nervous at all. It’ll all work out for me.”
I just have to be honest as a life long Spurs fan, and say I believe James has been given the chance to really grow and materialize into what the Spurs wanted I feel as though injury, bad timing slowed his progression as a player. But think for a moment Marcus Denmon is most likely headed to the D-League or overseas and it's no guarantee Manu will hold up but if you can invest multiple yrs. into a Malik Hairston why not someone who's shown flashes of brilliants when healthy and given adequate time on the floor here's my blueprint -(Starters- C-Tim Duncan, PF-Boris Diaw, SF-Kawhi Leonard, SG-Danny Green, PG-Tony Parker) now let fast forward a bit and assume that after this season Manu retires, Stephen Jackson moves on and so that leaves Bonner, Blair, Neal, & perhaps Mills as FA's or trade chips, now assuming Corey Joseph, & Ryan Richards shows the growth the Spurs would like to see in them keep James Anderson in mind, a future 1st unit of (C-Tiago Splitter, PF-Ryan Richards, SF-Kawhi Leonard, SG-James Anderson, PG-Corey Joseph: This the point where Pop put Corey in the driver seat like the whole Parker-Avery Johnson mentoring. Back-Ups Green, DeColo, etc. I really would like to see Anderson become a Spur great.
I would hardly call the job JA did on John Jenkins "terrific." There were multiple times where he completely lost Jenkins or failed to close out on probably the best shooter in this year's draft. He got destroyed with a couple of pump fakes but that happens with good shooters. He was NOT anywhere close to the defense Kawhi played in that game much less against Durant in the WCF. As much as I want JA to do well, asking for a trade last year was entirely ridiculous. If you let a guy who has been cut twice and been playing around the D-League beat you out for Manu's spot, you deserve to get benched. He showed he didn't have the drive to want to play as much as Danny Green did and much worse, he goes public and demands a trade. Unbelievable for a Spur to do that. Even Richard Jefferson was more poised when people were calling for his blood this season. Anyway, I hope Anderson turns into something good if not for the team, but for trade bait.
@CraigThomas I can confirm it WAS JAs agent that asked for the trade. JA is definitely not THAT GUY. Agents COMMONLY pull that crap
@CraigThomas JA did do a good job on him, were you watching the game close enough I watched it just couple hours ago and the only time Jenkins got the good looks was because of a screen or he happened to get open. One on one, JA did his part. He didn't ask for a trade, he just have a outspoken agent that said that. You know how agents gets when their players isn't getting much time on the court.
Did they ask Anderson did he wanted to be traded? No, and you can tell cause he WANTS to stay in SA. Cut twice, and playing in the D-League gives you that extra motivation to do good cause you want to make it to the NBA. Much like Jeremy Lin and Green. JA got hurt his rookie season, wasn't the same when he return and that's why he lost minutes cause why break up something that's winning. Common sense. I believe he should return, he has tremendous potential and with good minutes he can show that, like he did the last two games of the season.
@minus @CraigThomas Even if JA didn't ask for the trade, he didn't deny it either unlike what TP did after his public relations fiasco when he said the Spurs were "done." I don't know, putting the blame on his agent or girlfriend seems pretty weak to me. I've never really heard of that happening to any other Spurs player but I'll take you and Spursfan66 at your words.
The getting beat when Manu got hurt part is entire indefensible. I don't care if you were coddled and surrounded by yes men all your life, you have to have the will to want the spot. You have to know you are can play harder and better than everyone else when an opportunity literally falls on your doorstep. I don't want someone on the team who doesn't have the resolve to out-play an NBA castoff for a wide-open spot. Green came from out of nowhere to show his worth while Anderson withered under the pressure. Pop can't do anymore than show him the opportunity, it was his job to take it and he failed.
As I said before, I would like to re-sign Anderson and watch him develop. However, he has to be sacrificed immediately if the opportunity for a good big-man presents itself. There are too many sour grapes to keep JA indefinitely.
@CraigThomas @minus I do agree JA just didn't get it done..Green beat him for the spot. As for the JA/agent thing, it really does happen like that often. Agents too often create waves like this. I saw just today that Batum said straight out that his agent TOLD him to say stuff about wanting Minny ,I guess thinking that it would make portland do whatever they could to retain him. Typical crap really. Plus with the recent JA interview where he said he wants to be in SA, I think that pretty much says a lot about the likelihood it WAS just his agent running his mouth.
@DennisALippy I agree if Spurs can get him back CHEAP and if they strike out on the Big we all are craving.lol
I think JA will continue to do well in Las Vegas. He does appear confident and relaxed. I have always thought that he was pressing too much to be the main guy with the ball. Its an adjustment and with his injury at first and then no summer stuff before this past season. I think he is going to blossom. We all love Manu, but he is getting up there in age. Manu no longer can penetrate like he terrifically did before. JA is a keeper now, but especially more so for the near future!! Go Spurs!!!
james anderson should include in their rotation he will be a future star of the teams in years to come....
Man, I really like this dude. As happy as I've been with the success stories of Gary Neal, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard, I've really been bummed for James. I truly feel like there's a lot more potential and talent there then people realize which, for all sorts of aforementioned reasons in the article above, the Spurs haven't had the luxury of tapping into.
Surely he won't be staying with the Spurs, and I wish him the best. I just hope he doesn't somehow get picked up by a division rival or the Lakers.
I want JA to come back though. I really think given the chance, we have a solid future in the young guys on the team.
Can surprise us rather than disappoint.
wish JA the best sounds like a good guy. i thought he'd be the guy taking ginobli's spot when it was his time to go.