Justin Anderson’s defensive play, with an assist from the bench, helps Mavs beat Knicks

In the first half, it was looking like Carmelo Anthony was going to have one of those nights.

The Knicks superstar went into halftime with 22 points already to his name, on 9-of-15 shooting, and the Mavs held a narrow 52-51 lead. Already playing without Wesley Matthews, who suffered a right hip strain on Sunday and was unavailable Wednesday night, Dallas also lost point guard Deron Williams in the first half when he suffered a great toe sprain. That even further shuffled an already jumbled rotation even more.

But there is opportunity in adversity, and Justin Anderson took advantage of the extra minutes that came his way. Anderson helped limit Anthony to just eight points in the second half on 4-of-9 shooting. He also turned it over four times.

“Anderson really stepped up in the second half, really guarded the heck out of Anthony,” Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said. “He really took a quantum leap defensively in the second half.”

As it turns out, the second-year Maverick consulted with Matthews during nearly every timeout, taking whatever counsel the Mavs’ defensive ace would offer his way. Anderson said Matthews’ biggest piece of advice to help him make that “quantum leap” was simply to play tougher.

“The last time we were in New York, I remember guarding (Anthony) and I tried to give him space and he just happened to miss,” Anderson said. “So I thought I’d come into it with the same kind of strategy, kind of give space and give a late contest, but he got it.

“So (Matthews) was telling me to be a little more physical and do my work a step earlier. I was a little step behind to start, when I first came off the bench. He was great for me, just telling me to stay physical and kind of crowd him, and make him take a tough, contested one or put it on the floor, and that’s when I got my help. Wesley was tremendous for me tonight.”

Sometimes even getting into a scorer as talented as Anthony, forcing him out of his comfortable spots and into more difficult situations, still won’t limit the damage. When a player like that is in the zone, there’s not much you can do as a defender. As Dorian Finney-Smith put it earlier this season, sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat and move on. Both he and Anderson were tasked with defending Anthony tonight, and they did what they could to make things tough, and then they learned to live with the results. (Finney-Smith, too, has said Matthews has been a good mentor.)

“That’s what was tough for me in the first half,” Anderson said. “I think he hit like a tough fadeaway, and I got a contest, and he made it. I let it kind of get to me a little bit, just because I want it so bad. I want to prove to my teammates and our coaches that I can defend really well. That stuff ate at me a little bit.

“But I kind of breathed when I came out, and recollected my thoughts at halftime, and I wanted that challenge. I asked coach to keep me in and let me guard him, and I was thankful that he gave me the opportunity to go out there and continue guarding him for the rest of the game.”

Anderson’s opportunities have not come with the consistency that fans might have expected this season. He closed the 2015-16 campaign strong, and played some of his best basketball in the playoffs against Oklahoma City. But the addition of Harrison Barnes and the surprising play of rookie Dorian Finney-Smith have limited Anderson’s minutes of late. Before Sunday’s win against the Lakers, he’d played fewer than 10 minutes in each of his last seven appearances, receiving two DNP-CDs during that time.

In his last two games, however, Anderson has played nearly 36 minutes combined and is averaging 15.0 points and 4.0 rebounds. He took six free throws against the Lakers and seven more last night against the Knicks, an indication that he’s becoming more aggressive driving to the basket, one of the things Carlisle has urged him to do ever since he arrived to the NBA.

Anyone who has followed the Mavericks during the Carlisle Era will know the coach’s mantra, “stay ready,” is meant to be taken seriously. Despite Anderson’s lack of playing time during that recent stretch of schedule, the 23-year-old knew he had to do what he could not only to remain prepared in the event that he does play, but also to perhaps force his way back into the rotation.

“I’ve been working out really hard before and after games, late nights, and just putting myself in the position to be in shape and ready for whatever moment,” Anderson said. “Whenever I get the opportunity, just go out there and play hard, making the simple plays, just trying to show my coaches and my teammates that they can rely on me when they need me. I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”

With Matthews, Williams, J.J. Barea, and Dirk Nowitzki all not traveling to OKC tonight with the Mavericks, Anderson should receive significant minutes. For him, it’s another chance to take advantage of that opportunity.

Watch some crazy Justin Anderson highlights to celebrate his birthday

Justin Anderson turns 23 years old today. Most second-year players might not have a fully stocked highlight reel so early in their careers, but Anderson has already put together some of the most physically insane plays you’ll see on a basketball court.

In honor of his special day, let’s take a look at some of his most exciting plays as a Maverick.

Air Anderson

Justin Anderson cleans up the miss with a put back slam.

One hand is better than two, apparently, even on a put-back dunk…

Play of the Day: Justin Anderson

Justin Anderson comes flying in to clean up the glass with a monster slam.

…unless, of course, it’s the playoffs.

Justin Anderson throws down a vicious dunk

Justin Anderson rises for the jam for the Texas Legends.

He didn’t hold back in the D-League last season, either.

Anderson Gets the Block

Al-Farouq Aminu goes up for the layup and Justin Anderson pins it off the glass.

That’s Mav-on-former-Mav crime, as Anderson straight-up denied Al-Farouq Aminu point-blank at the rim.

Anderson Rejects Ariza

Justin Anderson chases down Trevor Ariza and rejects his layup attempt off the glass.

That block on Trevor Ariza might have been his most significant regular-season rejection of his career, helping to protect a one-point Mavs lead against Houston late in the 2015-16 season.

But the most insane, how-did-he-do-it play he’s made in his career came late last season. I still don’t know how exactly he did this.

He’s also a fun guy to hang around, too. He didn’t shy away from challenging a local radio personality to a game of Madden, and he won it in thrilling fashion.

Madden Challenge: Justin Anderson vs. TC Fleming

Justin "Simba" Anderson takes on 1310 The Ticket's TC Fleming in an epic Madden showdown.

There’s no doubt he loves food, so he had an absolute ball at the State Fair last fall.

Justin Anderson goes to the State Fair of Texas

Mavs rookie Justin Anderson ate his way through the State Fair of Texas.

And he “slid the city” in Oak Cliff during the summer, enjoying a day in the sun with complete strangers, who quickly became Mavs fans if they weren’t already.

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!

Let’s all wish a happy birthday to Justin Anderson, and hope that on his 24th we’ll have even more incredible highlights to look back on with awe.

Anderson slims down, Powell beefs up ahead of 2016-17 season

Bedgear Training Camp Practice Report: Justin Anderson

Mavs F Justin Anderson weighs in on tomorrow's preseason opener against New Orleans.

Justin Anderson played at a heavier weight last season than his teammate Dwight Powell. That fact might seem a little strange at face value, given Anderson played shooting guard and small forward for the Mavs, while Powell spent most of his time at power forward.

But that is no more.

Anderson, entering his second NBA season, has trimmed his weight about 10 pounds, down to 228, while the third-year man Powell has put on 15 pounds to get up to 245.

It’s an effort by both to be prepared for whatever Rick Carlisle has in mind for them this season, and that’s about as specific a plan as they have right now. Mavs training camp, presented by bedgear, only began on Tuesday and they’ve yet to play a preseason game, so while the coach might have an initial rotation in mind, as we’ve learned from watching the Mavericks over the years, everything is subject to change once the games begin.

“Coach is a guru at what he does,” Anderson said, “so he’ll figure out the best way to fit the pieces to the puzzle.”

The key to trimming and gaining weight, of course, is doing so while not compromising a player’s greatest strengths. Anderson’s physicality around the rim was one of the stronger elements of his game during his rookie season, and that’s an asset the Mavs won’t want him to lose, no matter which position he’s playing. A more slender Powell, meanwhile, was quite quick for a player his size in his first two seasons in Dallas. But both players have said they like where they’re at physically despite the changes, with Powell describing the weight he’s gained as “useful” (i.e. muscle, not fat).

“Versatility” has been a big buzzword around this team so far. Anderson, Powell, and prized free agent acquisition Harrison Barnes are all capable of defending two or even three positions, while Wesley Matthews showed similar capabilities in his first campaign with the Mavericks. Deron Williams can defend either guard position, as can Devin Harris.

This is a team built to switch on defense and force matchup issues on offense. In combination with walking mismatch and No. 6 all-time scorer Dirk Nowitzki, a bevy of combo players at Carlisle’s disposal could create new options offensively that Dallas hasn’t been able to explore in the past.

The small-ball revolution has completely taken over the NBA, which leads many to believe that Barnes will spend much of his playing time at power forward, particularly when Nowitzki is off the floor. That leaves room for the slimmed-down Anderson to slide in the rotation next to Barnes and Matthews, giving the Mavericks a trio of long, tenacious defenders on the outside, each capable of defending multiple positions.

“We’re all perimeter defenders, but we can all guard 4s, and even 5s in some cases as well,” Anderson said. “We’re pretty versatile. As far as guarding, it’ll help us with switching. It’ll help us with the communication level, because you know how passionate Wes is, how loud I am, and how smart HB is. We have so many different elements that are gonna come together.”

While Anderson and Matthews didn’t spend a huge amount of time playing together last season (just 214 minutes, according to NBA Stats, and most of those came out of necessity once Chandler Parsons went down due to injury) the belief is Anderson has progressed his game enough to earn a consistent rotation spot this season. That’s even more true if the Mavericks commit to the slow-down, grind-it-out style they used in the final nine games of last season. Anderson was very valuable during that stretch, acting as a shooter on offense and a supporting rim protector defensively.

Sliding Barnes to power forward creates all sorts of lineup possibilities for the Mavericks. Andrew Bogut, Salah Mejri, Powell, or even Dirk Nowitzki could play center next to Barnes, each big man providing different options on offense. And, depending on which point guard plays, each unit could do totally different things. We could see lightning-quick pace, slow-down basketball, and everything else in between.

Bedgear Training Camp Practice Report: Dwight Powell

Mavs F Dwight Powell weighs in on tomorrow's preseason game against the Pelicans.

But the more Barnes plays power forward, the fewer minutes remain to be had at that position for Powell, Quincy Acy, and others on the roster. That means Powell could potentially slide up to the center spot against some opponents, especially those who play small, hence the weight gain.

Should Powell see much time at center — just 29 percent of his minutes came at that spot last season, per Basketball-Reference.com — he’d conceivably be a dangerous lob threat in the spread pick-and-roll game the Mavs’ second unit has run for several years. While he might lack the size of many NBA centers, his plan is to make up for it with athleticism and explosiveness, which could cause defenses serious problems.

“The speed of the game will obviously pick up, so I get a chance to run and get out and get ahead of the defense,” Powell said. “I can use my speed to set on-catch, quicker ball screens, and in those situations I’ll be rolling. It’s fun to get lobs and be that guy down the middle.”

His role, however, hasn’t been completely defined yet, and it’s safe to suspect it will remain a fluid situation as the season wears on. Carlisle is never one to stick with a plan for the plan’s sake, and that flexibility has led to some zany-seeming lineups over the years which have actually worked well for the Mavericks. Perhaps Powell will be a full-time center, or maybe he’ll regularly slide in between both the 4 and 5 to play next to Nowitzki, Bogut, Mejri, or someone else.

The message, basically, is for every player to be up for whatever. Wesley Matthews joked at Media Day that the addition of Barnes allows him to finally defend his position, shooting guard, after he guarded all up and down the lineup last season. That’s been a common theme in Dallas throughout Carlisle’s tenure. Players are expected to prepare for any and every role imaginable, because you never quite know what’s going to be expected in a game.

Anderson shed some weight to be ready for his role, while Powell gained some. That’s a start for both. The Mavs have two preseason games in the next three days, so after those we should have a better idea of just how useful that weight will be for them this season.

Justin Anderson dines with teammates, fans at charity benefit dinner

We know two things for sure about Justin Anderson after one season in the NBA: 1) He’s a world-class athlete, 2) with a world-class appetite.

The next thing we are beginning to learn about the 22-year-old wing is he has a deep appreciation for his teammates. Monday night Anderson hosted most of the new Mavericks at Texas Land & Cattle on Lemmon, also inviting some 80-plus fans and media for a dinner benefiting the C5 Youth Foundation of Texas.

Those of us who either spend a lot of time in the kitchen or watch a lot of cooking shows know that by eating prepared food, you can gather something about the creator. In Anderson’s case, he worked with executive chef John Imbriolo to prepare a six-course meal, each selected by Anderson to combine elements of his Virginia childhood and professional career in the big city.

“I’m just giving an opportunity for Dallas to get to know a country kid from Virginia, and just see how we live, and I guess to bring a taste of Montross to Dallas,” Anderson said.

The second-year pro picked up a penchant for cooking early in his childhood. Montross is a small town of just 384, per the 2010 Census, and Anderson said once the streetlights came on outside, there wasn’t much to do. Life moves at a different pace in the country. But he, along with his siblings, would gather around the kitchen table and watch their parents cook dinner, and Justin and his brother E.J. would occasionally sneak in some seasoning or an extra ingredient to see how it would change the taste.

His experience would prove valuable in college, when he’d often cook for his roommates or teammates, most of whom — as is the case with just about every college student out there, myself included once upon a time — didn’t know which way was up when it came to operating in the kitchen. Anderson said one of his teammates would cook frozen chicken nuggets in the microwave and crinkle-cut french fries in the oven. “You’re doing it all wrong,” he’d bemoan.

“People ask sometimes, ‘What do you do outside of playing basketball?’ My first answer is always cooking,” Anderson said. “I just love it. It’s something that takes the mind away from everything. If you’ve been having a long day, and you make a dish that you love, you almost forget about it.”

Familiarity with Anderson’s roots helps to understand his menu, which began with a crab bisque with “just the right amount of spice,” as the Anderson-autographed menu stated, along with a grilled king crab leg. Imbriolo said crab was the first thing Anderson mentioned as he imagined the courses. Then came a Buffalo chicken dip and a tomato and cucumber salad before the meats came out.

And, my, the meat was good. To say Anderson has been impressed by Texas beef would be an understatement: There simply aren’t enough sources of local beef in his hometown, so his first real introduction to fresh beef, such as the salt block prime tenderloin or chipotle sugar bacon-wrapped ribeye courses, came when he moved to Dallas. That’s one more reason he’s happy to be a Maverick.

The highlight of the meal was “Justin’s ABJ,” his spin on the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in which he substitutes almond butter in for peanut butter “for health purposes,” served on pan-seared Texas toast, which he has said has always been his preferred choice of bread with any sandwich. But there’s more on it which he won’t divulge. “I’m not gonna say what I do from there, because hopefully one day I can make that mine,” he said, visions of future Executive Chef Justin Anderson in his head. “But it’s ridiculous. It’s so good.” (It is.)

(From Left) Head coach Rick Carlisle, Dwight Powell, Dorian Finney-Smith, Harrison Barnes, Kyle Collinsworth, Justin Anderson, C.J. Williams, Keith Hornsby, Nicolas Brussino, and Seth Curry.
(From Left) Head coach Rick Carlisle, Dwight Powell, Dorian Finney-Smith, Harrison Barnes, Kyle Collinsworth, Justin Anderson, C.J. Williams, Keith Hornsby, Nicolas Brussino, and Seth Curry.

After the meal, head coach Rick Carlisle introduced each player to those in attendance as this was the first opportunity for many of them to speak to the community. This is a much younger roster than the Mavericks have put together in recent seasons, so it’s important for the young guys to get to know each other, their coach, and their community as soon as possible to ease their transition to the NBA. Assistant coaches Melvin Hunt and Kaleb Canales also attended.

The mission of the C5 Youth Foundation of Texas is to change the odds for high-potential youth from risk-filled environments, inspiring them to pursue personal success, and preparing them for leadership roles in college, work, and their communities. Of more than 200 kids to complete the five-year program, each of them has graduated high school and all of have been accepted into colleges, including one at Stanford and one at Dartmouth. Former NHL goalie and Dallas Stars legend Marty Turco is among those spearheading the efforts of the foundation.

Justin Anderson to local kids: ‘Keep the game fun’

Justin Anderson, 22, is still a kid by NBA standards. But to local children at Jubilee Park in Dallas, where the second-year wing and the Mavs Foundation dedicated a new basketball court Thursday afternoon, Anderson is all grown-up, an influential professional athlete to which they’ll listen, clinging to every word.

Still the Mavs’ youngest player and an easy-going jokester on most days, Anderson takes public speaking opportunities very seriously. He understands the impact he can make as an NBA player on the lives of kids around the country, but especially those in Dallas.

“You always hear so much about it being a first-class organization. Obviously in 2011 it just popped off out here, but even before that you hear so many things about the Mavs being in the community,” Anderson said before speaking to the community at the park. “That’s one of the teams that when you see the NBA commercials you always see someone affiliated with the Mavs. Obviously Mark (Cuban) and Donnie (Nelson), the way that they run this ship is they want to make sure that we’re involved with the community, that we’re bringing smiles to faces, and we’re not just being people that you see on TV. We’re being people that you can meet live, and we’re just normal people just like everybody else.”

Indeed, one phrase you’ll hear all the time around the Mavs’ facility, particularly from those in charge of personnel decisions, is the team wants “the right kind of guys” within the organization: players who will compete hard on the floor while acting as ambassadors off of it, guys who are good in the community and embrace the numerous responsibilities that come along with being a professional athlete.

That hasn’t been an issue whatsoever for Anderson, who last year visited the State Fair of Texas before ever having worn a Mavs uniform. He ate way too much food because vendors kept offering him tastes of this and bites of that. He played every game and signed every autograph. Anderson always says being a kid from small-town Virginia helps him keep everything in perspective, especially through the tough times. But while Virginia might be his birthplace, Dallas is now his home.

“It felt like home as soon as I got here,” he said. “I was welcomed with open arms and I got to know the layout of the city pretty fast. It’s been pretty easy for me, and living here now, I got my apartment more set up and everything. It feels good to have a pad, but it’s important not to get too comfortable. Whenever you get too comfortable, you tend to relax.

“I don’t want to relax. I want to keep trying to be the best that I can be every year here.”

“Relax” is certainly the key word in his quote, as that was the most significant element of the speech he gave at Jubilee Park. Being a professional athlete is a 24/7/365 job these days. There’s time for fun, of course, but not the same kind of fun kids can enjoy, leaving house at dawn and returning at dusk after a day at the playground. Anderson encouraged the kids to enjoy the sport of basketball — and, more importantly, the time they can spend with their friends and family while playing the game — because those moments unfortunately won’t last forever.

“Keep the game fun. Don’t over-complicate something that’s so easy,” he said. “What I mean by that is a lot of people look at me and say, ‘Yeah, you’re tall, you work at it every single day.’ Well, that’s what it takes to be in this profession. There was a time when I’d (play) for fun, go inside and play video games, go eat whatever I want. I’m in a place now where it’s become a job. I have to be cautious of everything that I do, whether it’s what I eat, how much time I spend on the court, off the court. I kind of miss the days where you could just do what you want with the game and just play it however you want.”

What Anderson means is there’s a heck of a lot of demand in his line of work. That’s part of being a professional, of course, which goes back to “the right kind of guy” line decision-makers around the Mavs’ office repeat constantly. Justin Anderson is one of those guys. And, ironically, one place he learned to be that kind of guy was on the basketball floor.

“When it comes to outdoor court, I remember being young, and it’s almost like everything else that’s been going on in that day, that week, it’s all erased, and you’re just out there and you’re just soaking up each moment,” he said. “I’m so excited to be able to see the smiles on their faces once again and be able to shoot hoops with them, because I know how much as a child it meant to me of the older kids to let me shoot around and play with them.

“It was a huge part of my development and my growth, not just as a basketball player, but as a person: meeting new friends, meeting new people, learning how to carry yourself and handle yourself.”

Mavs’ Las Vegas Summer League path is laid out

After going 1-2 during the three-game preliminary round of the Las Vegas Summer League, the Mavs’ path to the championship is now laid out before them.

From here on out, it’s a single-elimination tournament all the way to the title game. Unfortunately Dallas didn’t earn a record good enough to receive a bye in the first round, so the Mavericks will have to win an extra game to advance in competition. Should Dallas lose Wednesday’s contest, a Thursday game will be the club’s last in Vegas.

The No. 15-seeded Mavericks will take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday at 9 p.m. Central time. The full tournament bracket can be found here.

In case you missed them, here’s a quick recap of the Mavs’ first three games in Las Vegas.

July 9 – Mavs 83, Heat 64

Highlights: Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat

Jonathan Gibson was on fire with 30 points as the Mavs knocked off the Heat, 83-64, for their first win of the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League.

In the Mavs’ Summer League opener, Jonathan Gibson put on an absolute show, draining six 3s and leading all scorers with 30 points as he and the Mavericks cruised to victory.

https://twitter.com/dallasmavs/status/751986009324355586

Gibson is no stranger to scoring the ball — he averaged 42 points per game in China last season, for crying out loud — but to say he burst onto the NBA radar with that performance would be an understatement. He hadn’t played more than six minutes total in any Summer League since 2012-13, when he scored a combined 39 points in five appearances for the Boston Celtics. He nearly matched that total in one game with the Mavericks. The 28-year-old Gibson is one of the oldest players in Las Vegas this summer, but through three games he’s played well enough to perhaps make a team give the New Mexico State grad his first-ever chance in an NBA preseason game. What a story that would be.

Meanwhile for the Mavericks, Justin Anderson scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds, a convincing performance from the second-year wing. He was extremely vocal throughout the entire contest, oftentimes talking more and louder than even the coaches. His teammates followed his lead, and the club put together a very solid defensive performance in the win.

July 11 – Raptors 80, Mavs 69

Highlights: Dallas Mavericks vs. Toronto Raptors

Jameel Warney led the Mavs in points (14) and rebounds (8) in Monday's game against the Raptors.

Anderson and the Mavs struggled to repeat their performance in the second game in Vegas, falling to the Raptors as the club suffered through a rough first half en route to its first loss. There was this highlight play though, a nice dribble-drive and dunk from starting 2-guard McKenzie Moore, who’s quietly put together a solid Summer League on both ends.

https://twitter.com/dallasmavs/status/752651732690296832

One big bright spot for the Mavericks in this contest was second-string center Jameel Warney. The undrafted Stony Brook product put up 14 points and eight rebounds, and that doesn’t begin to tell the story of just how active he is on the defensive end. He’s a bit undersized to play center, but he makes up for it with an extremely high motor and a fearless attitude on both ends.

July 12 – Celtics 88, Mavs 82

Highlights: Dallas Mavericks vs. Boston Celtics

Justin Anderson put up a strong 29-point 11-rebound performance in Tuesday's game against the Celtics.

The Mavs battled through a bit of a sluggish second and third quarter in Tuesday’s showdown with the Celtics, but fought back strong in the fourth quarter to make a game out of what was at one point a lopsided affair. Anderson bounced back brilliantly from his difficult 4-of-16 performance in the second contest, connecting on six treys and scoring a game-high 29 points. He also made this highlight play, and I’m still trying to figure out how it’s even possible.

https://twitter.com/dallasmavs/status/753012025408778240

Gibson, meanwhile, added 26 points of his own. He’s sixth in Vegas in scoring, while Anderson is 11th.

After the game, Anderson stressed the importance of keeping things simple heading into the tournament. That’s been a huge theme for him this entire summer — as excited as the organization and fans are for his development as a player, Anderson must stay focused on improving at all the little things: Drive here, pass there, switch here, finish there. Like many young players, his development isn’t as grand and glamorous as you might expect it to be. He’s working to get better at things that we might not notice, so that’s why he was upset today after his 29-point game. He’s hard on himself because, for him, it’s not about the individual results. It’s about the process.

The results will be most important for the Mavericks in the single-elimination tournament, obviously, and that begins tomorrow. One loss from here on out means the Mavs will be eliminated from contention for the championship. After every win, however, that trophy becomes closer and closer.

That’s the beauty of tournaments like this one. The preliminary round means nothing once the tourney begins. From then on, all that matters is what’s happening on the court. If Anderson and Gibson can continue leading this team, Dallas has the talent to beat just about anyone. It all starts tomorrow.

Justin Anderson’s advice to Mavs rookie A.J. Hammons: Stay the course

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.