AT&T CENTER – After finishing last season in the playoffs with the Houston Rockets, former San Antonio Spurs 2010 first-round draftee James Anderson found himself placed on waivers by the Rockets that summer. Anderson, who had spent most of his last three years with the Spurs, was picked up off waivers on July 16, 2013 by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Returning to San Antonio in a 76ers uniform, and with former Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown on Monday, before the Spurs defeated the 76ers, I had a conversation with Anderson, where he discussed what it’s meant to play for Coach Brown this season, what he learned in San Antonio, and he also commented on the Spurs’ future cornerstone player, Kawhi Leonard.
“It’s been great, playing for Coach Brown,” said Anderson. “You know how much passion and energy he brings to the game. It’s an everyday process playing under him. I’m still learning a lot under him.”
Before losing their 25th game in a row Monday, Anderson and the 76ers had already lost 24 straight before I spoke with him. He said outside of the losses, the team is still improving. “It’s just been great besides the losing,” said Anderson of his time with the 76ers. “Through the losing, we’re still learning as a team, still finding ways to fight and try to get a win.”
Being in the locker room daily with players like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili over the last three years, I asked Anderson, what he’s learned to use from the Spurs, that he still applies today.
“Mainly just how to be a professional,” said Anderson. “How to approach the game and compete. The big thing throughout the NBA is competing and finding the energy level, and getting ready mentally every night.”
Anderson said in the summer when he found out Brown would be his new head coach in Philadelphia, he was excited.
“I was happy when I got the call,” said Anderson of being picked up off waivers by the 76ers. “When they told me Coach Brown was getting the job, it was even better.”
With Anderson being a player Brown’s had experience with in San Antonio, Anderson said, sometimes Brown will look to him for leadership with the team being so young, despite the fact that Anderson himself is only 25.
“Yeah, kind of,” said Anderson about needing to be a leader for the 76ers. “Being one of the older guys on the group and being the guy with more experience, I try to talk to them (young players) here and there. Not much more than that, I mean, I’m still learning myself. Anything I can pass down to them, I try.”
Lastly, when it was Anderson’s sophomore season in the NBA, it was also Kawhi Leonard’s rookie season. After seeing Leonard as a rookie and how he’s developing today, Anderson said Leonard’s game has expanded and he’s just not known for his defense.
“He’s added a lot more to his game besides being a good defender,” said Anderson of Leonard. “Showing that he can score the ball in different ways and help them on the offensive side as well. When he’s on the court, he makes a big impact on who he’s guarding and defending. He definitely helps them on both ends, not just one.”
As Anderson prepares to wrap up his first season with Brown and the 76ers, it’ll be interesting to see if Philadelphia guarantees his non-guaranteed contract next season. This season, Anderson is averaging 10.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.0 steals per game.