James Anderson, Danny Green and stability
I was in Toronto this past weekend for the Blogs With Balls conference (that might be the dorkiest sentence I’ve typed on this site). One of the nights I was there, I had a conversation with Tom Haberstroh of Heat Index about the prospects of Josh Harrellson, AKA Jorts, making the Heat’s roster (these are obviously the conversations you have at sports media conferences). I said for sure Harrellson would make the team because he’s a lot better than Dexter Pittman. Tom agreed with me, but countered with the fact that Pittman has a guaranteed contract.
That’s the business of today’s NBA. Players with guaranteed deals get first dibs when it comes to playing time and especially roster spots (hence the guarantee). When it comes to playing time, this is a result of coaches feeling pressure from front offices to play those guys, because front offices don’t want to admit they made a mistake by drafting or signing certain players.
In a very roundabout way, this got me thinking back to the Danny Green / James Anderson dynamic and how lucky Spurs fans are to enjoy such a stable coach, GM and owner relationship. The Spurs used the 20th pick in the draft on James Anderson, the highest pick they had made since drafting Tim Duncan. For a team that essentially pulled Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili from thin air, that was a big deal.
Anderson seemed to have solidified a spot in the rotation early in his career until he broke a bone in his foot seven games into his rookie year. He never was able to get a grasp on solid playing time after that. Danny Green was a big reason why Anderson never got that playing time and, thus, is no longer with the Spurs. There was a lot of talking in training camp last season how good Anderson looked and that he was primed for a big season, but instead it was Green that made the jump.
In most franchises in the NBA, that doesn’t happen. Anderson plays solid minutes come hell or high water. But because of the stability the Spurs enjoy and how much those who make the decisions are on the same page, Danny Green gets his chance to earn his way into the NBA. Peter Holt trusts Coach Pop to play whichever team Pop deems best and Pop trusts RC to bring in players who fit the system.
It doesn’t always work out. But luckily for the Spurs, those outside influences that limit and undermine other teams don’t play as big of a role in San Antonio.