Shocker: Last night the Spurs took a Shooting Guard from an American college people have actually heard of. That player’s name, which you no doubt already know is James Anderson. I posted here that while I thought the guy might be available when the Spurs’ number came up, I stayed away from him in our mocks because I thought – and still do think – the Spurs had a pretty good backcourt going with Tony, George, and Manu. My thinking was that the Three and Five positions were of greater need, and in the tier of players expected to be available at #20, there would be some good candidates for those slots available.
What I neglected to think about was that court positions don’t matter quite as much in today’s NBA as they once did. Sure, it’s nice to field a team with prototypical size at the various positions, but it’s probably far more important to field a team that can just flat play basketball. Look at the Mavs, yeah I hate them too, but in JJ Barrea they have a virtual dwarf that somehow manages to make the Spurs look stupid every post-season.
What I am trying to say, is that the Spurs needed a player that could play, not necessarily a “Big” or a “Swing”, and preferably one that can score in a variety of ways. One of the reasons that RJ flopped so hard this past season, was that he wasn’t accustomed to scoring in the manner that the Spurs offense dictated that he should. I expect that Anderson will go through some of that as well, in addition to getting used to play at an NBA level. However, despite what I may have said elsewhere about the Spurs Front Office, I do trust them enough to have found a good enough fit character-wise that their newest player will be coachable enough to find his way eventually.
One thing I’ve heard said about Anderson is that he’s put in the work required to improve on a year-to-year basis. During the telecast last night, not only did Jay Bilas call Anderson the best shooter in the draft, but he talked about how he developed from being merely a catch-n-shoot scorer to being somebody that could score in multiple ways. It’s this factor of the game that I am hoping serves him best over the course of his career in San Antonio.
A fact of the modern NBA style of play is that good shooting, especially good shooting from nineteen to twenty feet out, is key to opening up the middle of the court for your post players and slashers. In the Phoenix series, the Spurs suffered from a comparative lack of this skill, and it hurt in a number of ways, key among them the Suns’ D was able to focus in on Duncan, Manu, and Tony more than we all would have liked. If Anderson can come in next season and hit just three of the shots that Mason, Bonner, et al. missed I suspect that will help things out a bit for everyone else.
A fact about the San Antonio Spurs is that they sometimes have problems “scoring the ball”, so adding a player into the mix whose calling card is his ability to put the ball in the hole should ease the tension a bit on that issue. On top of that, dude is known for getting to the line at a decent clip, another thing that can sometimes bite the Spurs in the butt.
My hope is that Mr. Anderson shows the Spurs enough in Summer League and training camp to warrant some minutes early in the season, which in turn I hope leads to him earning the starting role at the off guard position by year’s end. I’d love to see Parker and Anderson starting and Ginobili and Hill of the bench, as in theory that maximizes the strength of the roster and various skills that each player brings to bear.