For James Anderson, timing is everything
For San Antonio Spurs swingman James Anderson, the time is now. While the anticipation and the highlight may have belonged to rookie Kawhi Leonard after last night’s 97-95 preseason victory over the Houston Rockets, it has been Anderson making waves in training camp.
“James has had a very good camp,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “He came in really committed, aggressive and hungry based on last year and not really getting an opportunity with all the injuries.”
Through his very brief NBA career James Anderson has been a victim of timing. A lingering hamstring injury affected him most of his rookie training camp, but Anderson was able to shake it off and make an impact his first six games averaging almost nine points, hitting half his three-point attempts, and showing a commitment to defense.
Then came a stress fracture to his right foot and the emergence of fellow rookie Gary Neal as the Spurs got off to a franchise best start. By the time he returned the Spurs rotations were set, with Anderson on the outside looking in.
Now the shoe is on the other foot with Gary Neal expected to be out after an appendectomy until at least the second week of January. And finally that foot, and everything else attached to it, is healthy.
“This is really the first time I’m seeing a healthy James Anderson, he’s ready to go,” Popovich said. “[He's shown] good effort, a good understanding of what we want. He was hurt all last year, this is like his rookie year almost.”
After a summer spent working on his game Anderson is set to turn timing in his favor. Especially when it comes to pace. Young players often struggle walking the fine line between doing everything quickly, and doing it in a hurry.
In two preseason games, and an open scrimmage, James Anderson appears to have allowed the game to slow down enough to read the action around him without losing his aggressive edge. Something Andrew McNeil summed up perfectly in last night’s recap:
When James Anderson is on the floor, you know it. He has the activity to take center stage even when he shouldn’t be. He climbs trees for rebounds and defends two guys in an instant. Anderson seems acutely aware of what is happening around him, something not easy to come by for young players. When he’s defending a shooter in the corner, he knows the right moment to help off and stop penetration and when to get back and smother the player in the corner.
“I feel a lot more comfortable than last year. There was a lot more thinking and now I’m pretty much just taking my time and making plays,” Anderson said. “Just timing everything instead of just rushing and doing everything.
“My pace is much more translated to the NBA style from college style, where you’re rushing to do everything,” he added. “I did a very good job in the offseason of working on that, and working on pace–when to use this pace, when to use that pace–and it’s paying off right now.”