Because we know little about the flyer that is James Anderson we asked our brethren (and sistren) at the SB Nation Spurs blog Pounding the Rock for some insight and what we might be able to expect from the third year pro.
Hawks fans tend to get excited when a former first round pick who is only in their third year suddenly shows up on the roster, even in a non-guaranteed, prove it capacity. So when someone like Anderson appears we want to know if the guy is a potential steal for the Hawks, if he fits what they need and why he was suddenly available/no longer wanted where he came from.
CapHill (Nancy Lambertson) is PTR's resident Oklahoma State and James Anderson expert and graciously prepared more words about Anderson than one might expect.
Feast and Enjoy!!
What do Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and James Anderson have in common? They were all the Big 12 Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year. Of course, so were Michael Beasley, Jamaal Tinsley, and Raef LeFrentz (clearly winning this award does not guarantee future NBA stardom). As the resident Oklahoma State homer on Pounding The Rock, I'm here to share a few thoughts about the Hawks' latest roster addition. Way back after the 2010 draft, I wrote a little post on What to Expect from James Anderson. Surprisingly enough, a lot of those thoughts are still applicable. Anderson was a great college player, touted by many as the best shooter in that draft. Yet, two years later, no one knows yet if he can play in the NBA.
So what happened? Injuries and bad timing. Anderson came out the gate running his rookie year, then suffered a foot injury that kept him out for the next two months. By the time James could play again, Pop had a rotation he trusted, especially with George Hill emerging and Gary Neal shooting lights out. So, Anderson languished on the bench. Then came the Summer of the Lockout (such fond memories). Anderson missed his second Summer League - a hammy injury forced him to miss the previous year too. So not only did Anderson barely play during his rookie season, he didn't get the chance to play in a venue that would allow him to improve his game and most of all, just log minutes.
During the lockout-shortened season, Anderson never looked comfortable on the court. He lacked explosiveness, and his play was both tentative and forced. The emergence of both Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard early in the season pretty much guaranteed Anderson a permanent seat on the pine. Then the Spurs declined to pick up his 3rd year option. Although he expressed some frustration about lack of minutes and the situation in general, Anderson didn't become a distraction. Unfortunately, things don't always work out. With the glut of guards on the Spurs' roster, there is just no room for an unproven player, even if he does have potential. (We do, however, have need for another big. The Hawks don't really need both Josh Smith and Al Horford, do they?)
So what's next in his career? It's hard to say. Some Spurs' fans have already written off Anderson as a bust. I disagree. Anderson showed signs that he is finally healthy in Summer League. Now he has to regain confidence. In college, Anderson had a well-rounded offensive game. However, within the Spurs system, he generally operated as a spot-up shooter (this is not a bad thing, as no team loves the corner three more than the Spurs). I freely admit to knowing nothing about the Hawks' offense, but if Anderson can revert back to his slashing ways from college, he could provide an offensive spark off the bench with an ability to score both from deep and by driving the lane.
Although Anderson is shorter than the average NBA SF, he does have a thicker body than the typical SG. With his experience guarding bigger guys in college, Anderson could have success defending 2nd string SFs. He often looked confused in the Spurs' defense, but that's not the easiest system to learn, especially when you're not playing. Anderson won't be the second coming of Bruce Bowen on defense, but he usually doesn't lack effort.
I, for one, hopes this works out. Anderson is a good kid and has been a good basketball player. Sometimes, you just need a change of scenery. And may y'all marvel at how a man with these pinkies can shoot the basketball.
Peachtree Hoops thanks CapHill (Nancy) endlessly for this contribution -- be sure to check out all Spurs goings on at Pounding the Rock.