For James Anderson, timing is everything

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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.”

  • Lvmainman

    Gary Neal will now be gone the way of the Dodo bird. Get your agent to do what Finley’s and Novak’s agent did, because your time with the Spurs has now ended.

  • Anonymous

    Not so fast to dismiss Neal from the team.  Kawhi still has some learning to do.  Anderson can AND WILL be used at the 3 on many occasions.  Neal established himself as a potent and “important” rotation player.

    Now… if involved in a trade to land a top notch post player…Neal could still be very beneficial to the team more so than the other players you mentioned.

  • Titletown99030507d

    We’ll still need Neal for now but if Anderson blows up before trade deadline we could use Neal in a package with Bonner or Blair to get a big right in time for the playoffs.

  • grego

    Imagine if Anderson never was injured. Would Neal have made as much an impact? 

  • grego

    His contract is a bargain. He’s not going anywhere unless it’s in a good deal. That said, his contract is so small, he’d need to be in a decent sized package. McDyess is gone now, so not likely happening any longer. 

  • CapHil

    Probably not, so in a way, Anderson’s injury was a good thing.  Of course, he’s going to show why he was a 1st round pick this year.

  • Bfspice

    I sure hope the Spurs have something planned. How hard is it to get one more legit big man? Utah just traded center Okur to New Jersey for a 2nd round pick and a trade exemption. We surely could have offered up more than that for a stretch big with playoff experience and once averaged 18ppg 10rpg just a few years ago. 

  • grego

    NJ has cap space so they didn’t need to send back any contracts. In the Spurs case, they’d need to send back contracts. Utah couldn’t do the same type of salary dump. 

  • grego

    With San Antonio (since they are over the cap). 

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure he never would have been given such a chance.  It’s a great story.

  • Anonymous

    So much for my talent judging.  Spurs waive Lawal ,,, keep Hassell and Zeler.

    http://www.nba.com/spurs/news/111222_spurs_waive_gani_lawal

    Scratching head on that one.

  • Juan Mari

    I am pretty sure they will waive Hassell and Zeller too. Lawal has shown better action in these two games

  • Anonymous

    My hope is that there is some sort of near deal that is about to happen that is landing talent better than Lawal, Hassell and Zeller.  Otherwise…on a team that is sorely lacking depth in its post and the best ( term
    being used loosely) 4th to 5th big on the team is waived….? ? ?

  • Rickymangum62

    YO this is ole skool. Check this out, Cory Jo is the second coming of Maurice Cheeks same game of point guard play and looks, If any of U can think back that far. Mr. Cheeks was a real pro 2 come to our city when, David Robinson, came here 2 help the club. Peace

  • DorieStreet

    Why dismiss him so quickly? This may be just the beginning of the ‘new’ Spurs–the development of a potent backcourt squad/rotation that will reduce minutes for the veterans (Tony & Manu) while still being able to provide scoring during this compacted season. Neal just has to step up and have his defense match the intensity of others on the team.