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Justin Anderson could be a star, if Carlisle gives him the chance

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In his second year, Anderson is in line to be the Mavs’ most successful draft pick since Josh Howard.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks-Media Day Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Anderson represents hope for the Dallas Mavericks organization. He was the first rookie since Josh Howard to play meaningful minutes in the postseason. He will hopefully be the first rookie since Josh Howard to stick around for more than two or three seasons and make an impact on the franchise.

Here’s what we should expect from him this season.

Biggest Question

The biggest question regarding Anderson this season is whether by the middle of the season this incredibly talented and energetic young player will still be sitting on the bench behind players like Devin Harris and Seth Curry. I’d love to believe that Carlisle has developed trust in Simba, along with an appreciation for what he can bring to both ends of the court, but Carlisle tends to favor small veteran guards over inexperienced, athletic talent.

There is still hope, however. Anderson has made an impression on Coach Carlisle already, showing off his ability to shoot from the outside, defend multiple positions and rebound extremely well for a swingman. Carlisle has always had a soft spot for versatile, athletic wings like Shawn Marion and Al-Farouq Aminu, and hopefully that bodes well for Simba’s future in a Mavs jersey.

With Harrison Barnes and Wes Matthews being the clear choices for the two starting wing spots, I’m curious to see if Simba will fill in at both the shooting guard and small forward spots as the second or third player off the bench, as opposed to being the fourth or fifth reserve behind guys like Curry, Harris or J.J. Barea.

Best Case Scenario

Anderson has the potential to be an absolute monster in the NBA. He is 6’6” and built like a tank, with a seven-foot wingspan and a 43-inch vertical. His jumper is silky smooth, and he has the athleticism to get it off over any defender. He’s shown the intensity, effort and ability to encourage that make for a great teammate.

Still, he is just a second-year player, and his game needs some polishing. His ball handling and playmaking abilities need to improve if he wants to be more than a 3-and-D specialist. If he can figure out how to create off the bounce, set up his teammates, and generate scoring opportunities for himself, Anderson has all the tools to be a star player in the league.

This season we hope to see a more polished version of the player he was last year, but his effort and athleticism will still be there, so even if he doesn’t take a major leap, Anderson should still be able to make an impact whenever he’s on the floor.

Worst Case Scenario

Justin Anderson has a reputation as a great guy, a hard worker and by all accounts a great teammate. My biggest fear for Anderson, and for the Mavericks franchise as a whole, is that Simba won’t receive the playing time he needs to grow as a player.

We saw Jae Crowder flourish in Boston after Dallas traded him away because Carlisle didn’t trust his inexperience and never gave him the opportunity to develop. Hopefully Anderson can avoid that fate. It looks like he already has more freedom and trust than any rookie in recent years.

Justin Anderson deserves a real shot, and the Mavericks deserve to see what kind of player he can turn out to be. Keeping Anderson and allowing him to develop and grow is a win-win situation.