Justin Anderson at Slide the City
Mavs wing Justin Anderson took his cameraman talents to Slide the City in Oak Cliff last weekend. Be on the lookout for him and the Mavs at more events this summer!
Justin Anderson knows better than just about anyone what a wild ride a rookie season can be in the NBA. He was locker buddies with a future Hall of Famer, received irregular playing time for the first four months of his career, and played seven D-League games before ever starting for the Mavericks.
The second-year wing also knows better than anyone how big a virtue patience can prove to be. After playing just 8.3 minutes per game through the Mavs’ first 71 contests in 2015-16, Anderson averaged 25.8 per contest in the final 11 — including eight starts — and 19.0 in the playoffs. If you stick to the plan and continue to work, you will be rewarded for it when the opportunity arises.
The newest Maverick, rookie center A.J. Hammons — taken 46th overall in last week’s NBA Draft — would be wise to take Anderson’s advice.
“Stay the course. It’s a long season. Stay the course and trust the process,” Anderson told Mavs.com. “At the 46th pick, it’s a very important pick. People think, like, ‘Oh, it’s the second round, whatever.’ That was our only pick. I think with our guys, we’re trying to maximize as much talent as we can get to try to put together a special team. I think that’s what we did with getting him. I think he’s very capable of being a first-rounder. For whatever reason he slid, and I’m kind of happy that he slid and we’re gonna be the team to give him his shot, and he’s gonna be a little angry about it. I’m excited. I think he’s a very talented player.”
Hammons averaged 15.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game last season for Purdue, his senior campaign. He led the Big Ten in blocks per game three times and in block percentage all four years, according to Sports-Reference, and he was one of the most efficient players at the D-I level when operating out of the post, per Synergy Sports.
But the rookie will be 24 before opening night which, when combined with questions about his motor — or, as Donnie Nelson put it, his “tiger in the tank” — caused him to slip to the second round, where the Mavericks were happy to scoop him up. They’ll get their first look at him next week as the Las Vegas Summer League team mini-camp, and he’ll team up with Anderson under the tutelage of Mavs assistant coach Jamahl Mosley, who will assume head coaching duties in Vegas.
“He’s talented. He’s large. He’s a load down there, and he can do what he wants,” Anderson said of his teammate. “He can score in all different types of ways on the block. A lot of people question a lot of things about him, but that’s doing nothing but building his hunger. I know he’s ready to come in. My biggest thing right now is I can’t wait to talk to him and try to get him on board with winning Summer League. That’s my next goal, personally, and I can’t wait for us to become teammates.”
Of course, as is Mavs custom, Hammons becoming his teammate gives Anderson the green light to make as much fun of him as he wants. And although he and Hammons never crossed paths in college, Anderson will walk into the locker room with a small amount of ammo at his disposal. Anderson’s Montrose Christian High took down Hammons’ Oak Hill Academy in a tournament final in 2011, while both were juniors. Anderson hit a 3-pointer late in the game to force overtime, and Montrose eventually prevailed. Hammons will hear about it the first time they meet, Anderson joked.
Last week’s draft was also a first of sorts for Anderson, who said he’d never watched it start-to-finish before. But waiting to watch his Mavs pick at 46 and anxious to see where his college teammate Malcolm Brogdon would end up — he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks, coached by former Mavs point guard Jason Kidd — Anderson said he didn’t flip the channel.
Life isn’t always totally glamorous for NBA rookies, especially those taken in the second round, as they receive a lower salary and aren’t essentially guaranteed a roster spot like those who are drafted a round earlier. Hammons will have to earn his way onto the roster and he’ll have to earn the right to stay there, even if it means spending more time with the Legends than the Mavericks, or more time on the practice court than in game action… at least, as Anderson found in 2015-16, while it’s still early in the season.
“Whether it’s the league, whether it’s the D-League, whether it’s not playing, whether it’s playing 40 minutes a game, just trust the process and continue to enjoy each day in the NBA, because ultimately we’re finally where we dreamed of being,” he said.