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What to Expect from James Anderson

I'm not an NBA scout. I'm not an NBA coach. I'm not a GM. What I am is a long-time Oklahoma State basketball fan who has seen at least 75 OSU games over the last 3 years (encompassing the entirety of James Anderson's collegiate career). So even though I'm not a draft expert, I'm fairly certain I can provide more insight than you got from the television coverage last night into the latest addition to the Spurs family. Hopefully without being too much of a fangirl, but definitely without the commercials.

I'm not going to bore anyone by regurgitating what can be found elsewhere. What I'm going to do is try to give some perspective on what Anderson can bring to the Spurs. However, for you stat geeks (ahem, BlaseE), DraftExpress has an excellent article on Small Forwards, the category in which they put Anderson. They are rather eye-opening.

College Background

Here's the official OSU biography on Anderson through his sophomore season. James had an immediate impact, leading the team in points and minutes since his freshman year. This season, he was thrust into the leadership role for a young, inexperienced team, playing in arguably the best college league (Big 12). James had to carry the team, accounting for over 30% of OSU's total points. If you could shut down Anderson, you could easily shut down the rest of the team. Fortunately for the Cowboys, that didn't happen often, as he scored in double digits every single game this season, failing to break 15 points only 6 times in 33 games; hence the nickname of "Big Game James". Much has been written about his poor showing in the NCAA Tourney, but Georgia Tech double and triple teamed him the whole game. That's not going to be a issue with the Spurs.

NBA Position

Although Anderson should spend most of the time at SG, he's capable of playing SF. The starting lineup for Oklahoma State this year consisted of a 5-9 PG, 5-9 SG, 6-5 wing, 6-6 wing (Anderson) and a 6-8 post player (and you thought the Spurs played "small ball"). Often, Anderson had to defend bigger players in the post. Even though he's not a freakish athlete, James has the physicality and hops to play bigger than his listed height of 6-6. He shouldn't be RJ's main backup, but he could definitely play the 3 in limited spurts. Anderson was hampered by a hamstring injury during pre-draft workouts, so take some of the write ups about his athleticism with a grain of salt. Think solid starter in a few years, but most likely not an All-Star. (Simmons didn't like the pick, so that should make everyone smile.)


These are highlights from the OSU upset of #1 Kansas in February. Anderson is wearing #23 - he's a lifelong Michael Jordan fan.

For Latin D:

Local coverage of his Draft press conference:

What Anderson Brings

True SG size. Anderson has an NBA-ready body and the strength to match. Although he is a good shooter, he doesn't limit himself to perimeter shots. Anderson is very comfortable finishing at the rim or getting his shot off in the lane. He doesn't shy away from contact and is a very aggressive, physical presence in the paint when slashing to the basket. Although James is known as a shooter, he's not a chucker. He won't force many shots, and he's more than willing to take what the defense will give him. To get Anderson open this year, OSU used pick and rolls or baseline screens, so he shouldn't have much trouble adjusting to the Spurs' offensive sets. He has a quick release and doesn't need a lot of space to shoot. Plus, James is a good FT shooter (over 80%). In short, Anderson is an extremely efficient scoring machine who should equal instant offense.

Anderson is a good passer in the pick and roll, but he's not really a distributor. His assist-to-turnover ratio was 1:1, but his turnovers should drop, as he won't be required to carry the load as he did in college. He doesn't have Manu's court vision (who does?) and probably won't be a high assist guy. However, he can create for himself off the bounce and, hopefully, should be better at including his teammates when he improves his handle. View him as a true wing, not a potential 3rd PG. However, Anderson should thrive on the corner pocket, much to Spursdom's delight.

For defense, there will be a learning curve, as Anderson needs to concentrate more on perimeter defense. Although he was an above-average defender in college and has the ability, he will be strictly limited to defending the SG/SF positions. So don't expect another Bruce, but don't believe those who say he can't defend. Anderson is a hard worker and showed improvement in this area each year in college. He led the Cowboys in rebounding several times this year, grabbing double digits boards 3 times. His rebounding is good for a SG, but he will need to become more consistent at the NBA level. Anderson tends to stay at home on his man, only occasionally gambling for steals.

And last, but not least, Anderson has great character. He's a quiet, small town kid who hasn't let college stardom go to his head. I could go on and on about how hard working and humble he is, how he's never gotten into trouble, how everyone loves him, but I'll just leave you with a few quotes from his college coach:

If all my players were the type of person he is and as responsible and accountable, as nice, coming ready to practice every day as James was makes it a lot easier. As I’ve said, he’s the most coachable young man I’ve ever coached, and that’s a broad term and I can get into what that means. In my two years of James, I’ve never had to call him into my office one single time for something he’s done wrong or been late to or anything like that. I’ve never had to tell him something twice.

Anytime you see James, he’s extremely humble and very polite, in a good mood. He’s a "no, sir/yes, sir." You tell him to do anything, he does it. Yes, it makes my job easy coaching a young man with his talent level, but also the type of young man he is. It makes everybody around him better. Makes me a better person. It makes his teammates better players and better people. There’s not many James Andersons that come around every day, there’s really not.

Travis Ford

Bonus Video

Because everyone should see this shot:

Draft Grades from around the Interwebs

Kelly Dwyer, Yahoo - A

The Spurs, seriously, may have just drafted themselves another starter. At 20. Jerks.

And Richards could pan out. Which, in Anglo vernacular, means he "could pull the drainpipe through the tire mason's stovetop outside the vicar's garden." Fantastic value for the 20th and 49th picks.

Dave Del Grande, CBS Sports - A

The Roger Mason experiment having failed, the Spurs luck into an upgrade 20 picks into the draft. Postpone the obituary.

FoxSports - B Plus

The Spurs win 50 games every year for a reason, and it's not just Tim Duncan. Anderson should step in right away and contribute. He's similar to a young, albeit less explosive, Michael Finley. Richards wowed a lot of people in workouts and though he's a long ways off could prove to be a nice find despite a lack of experience.

James Anderson is one of the better shooters in this draft. He falls to the Spurs here who are in need of youth and energy at the wing. Anderson has an NBA body already and good size for his position. He proved that he could score at a high and efficient pace at the college level. If injuries continue for Ginobili and Parker next year, Anderson could find himself playing a good amount of minutes. - Brian Cerone


Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Spurs have stolen an underrated player in the draft. This year, it's James Anderson, who San Antonio nabbed at 20th overall. Anderson was a preposterously efficient scorer at Oklahoma State, and figures to give the Spurs an excellent kick-out option for the Spurs to punish teams for doubling.

Indeed, Anderson's 35% shooting from three-point land belied his smooth stroke, considering the amount of defensive attention he attracted as the Cowboys' focal point on offense. Along with George Hill and DeJuan Blair, San Antonio is well on its way towards building a nice young nucleus to complement its aging Big Three.

Please link to any other analysis you find in the comments.