Anderson is seen as a likely "3 and D" type player at the next level by a lot of NBA folks. Do you think that's a reasonable projection of his skills and do you think there could be more to his offensive game than just filling a role as a spot up shooter?
"3 and D" is definitely a fair category to place Anderson in. especially in an NBA context...but he has the potential more versatile than that term typically conjures. This shot-chart demonstrates how "3 and D and Dunk" be a better descriptor of his time in college. At Virginia, he was far more than a spot-up shooter on offense - he's always been active around the rim too.
Two questions emerge - first, how much of that offensive versatility will actually translate to the NBA? It's a tough one for me to answer, but Anderson certainly doesn't lack the physical tools to succeed. Second, in what areas could Anderson develop? Between his sophomore year and junior year, he went from a below-average three-point shooter to an elite one. You guys have correctly noted that Justin hasn't really shown the ability to create his own shot, but at the rate of improvement we've seen over the past couple seasons, I'm not convinced that he can't add some new dimensions to his game. When interviewed after the draft, he noted that his primary area of focus is improving on his ability to create shots for teammates, an area which seems even more plausible.
This past season, Justin shot an impressive 45 percent from the college three point line, which was a big improvement over prior seasons. Some have questioned whether this past year was just a mirage. How do you think his outside shooting will translate to the next level?
Improving from 29 percent to 45 percent over the course of one season is reasonable cause to raise an eyebrow. He was actually well over 50 percent for the first half of the season before "regressing." But the improvement doesn't seem to be based on random chance - Anderson made major changes to his shot in the off-season, and 104 shots seems to be a reasonable sample size.
Anderson's shot was lights-out when he shot from a set position, especially from the corners. Some of the "drop-off" to 45% came when he tried to do a bit too much; when he shot off the dribble, he didn't seem to maintain the same form as his catch-and-shoot motion, and his numbers suffered a bit. There's absolutely no reason that Anderson won't continue to be an excellent three-point shooter, especially if he sticks to his strengths.
We just watched an NBA Finals where the Warriors' collection of versatile wing talent--especially their defensive versatility--played a huge role. I personally think Anderson's abilities on that end are being underrated by Mavs fans.How would you assess his defensive versatility at the next level? Is he a guy that could potentially defend the 2 through the 4?
Anderson is going to be a great NBA defender (and he's ready to be a very good one tomorrow). He's quick enough to stay with NBA-level guards, and big and strong enough to guard 4s. Heck, Anderson was forced into guarding 7'1" Alex Len for stretches when Virginia played Maryland two years ago, and helped hold him to 3 of 6 shooting. In the NBA, Anderson won't be guarding centers and he won't be able to stick on the quickest point guards. But he is going to bother the hell out of 2s, 3s, and 4s.
Not only is Anderson physically ready for the task, but he plays with maximum effort, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He's seemingly always diving on the ground or making plays like his signature chase-down blocks. The guy just loves playing defense.
Anderson was viewed as a big leader on that UVA squad before his hand injury. And the Mavs could use more of that after dealing with Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo this past season. Are there any games or moments from his time at Virginia that stand out to you in terms of his leadership and impact on the game without filling up the box score?
As good as Justin Anderson was for Virginia by any traditional measure, its his intensity and ability to make big plays that made him special. He's had the ability to inject energy into a game more than any player I could remember because he makes things happen. Alley-oops. Putbacks. Circus dunks. Game-changing blocks. Looking back, I think Virginia fans loved him because he seemed to regularly do the things that not only make basketball games really exciting and end up on highlight reels, but shift the momentum of games.
As far as making an impact on games without touching on the box score, two things from this past season come to mind. The first was the time he missed during the heart of the ACC season with an injury, when he was the team's biggest cheerleader for a month. He was in every huddle, pumping up players on the bench, and doing as much as anyone could to influence the game without seeing the court. The other was this play, when Dookie Justise Winslow, on the floor, grabbed Anderson's leg while he turned to run up court, a potentially dangerous move. Anderson turned in anger, looked down...then extended an arm to help Winslow up. That helped influence a technical foul on the bad guys, and really showed Justin's maturity. That's the kind of player he is - intense but smart and controlled.
* * *