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X Factor: Under-the-radar Anderson may prove to be biggest surprise this season

An x factor is defined as a variable in a situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome. 

Sometimes the impact is unpredictable, like the way an unknown George Hill came in his rookie season and made a name for himself. 

All most people know about James Anderson (no, not the NFL player), is that he was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 2010 and he missed most of his rookie campaign due to injury. 

The 6-6 guard/forward earned high praise from his teammates in training camp last season.

Former Spurs forward, Antonio McDyess, said then he was surprised at the new talent, including Anderson, who could help right away. 

Anderson did just that, scoring 10 points in his rookie debut. 

With plenty of competition at shooting guard and small forward, the biggest question mark was Anderson’s defense. He would have to show he could defend in order to carve out a role. 

He certainly answered the call, picking up a block per game in the three games that followed before suffering a foot injury that kept him out until January. 

Watching Anderson through a rehab stint with the Austin Toros, it was clear that he’ll be able to make a name for himself in the NBA. Even when he wasn’t at full health or speed, he was able to pull up and sink jumper after jumper if he wasn’t slashing to the basket. 

He has the rare combination of speed, athleticism and an outside shot that could pose a threat at either the shooting guard or small forward position, and he put that on display this summer at the Impact Training Series in Las Vegas, NV. While the injury took away some of his explosiveness last season, don’t be surprised to see him finish at the rim as often as he knocks down a jumper from either wing. 

Having a full training camp last season and this season could give Anderson an advantage coming into this season with a clean bill of health. 

He’s obviously already impressed Tony Parker, who called Anderson the surprise of camp. 

While he’s listed as a shooting guard, at 6-6, Anderson can certainly play at small forward and could eventually compete for starting minutes. 

While the Spurs lost in the free agent small forward sweepstakes, they may have their next starter already suited up in silver and black. And his name is not Richard Jefferson.

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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