His first NBA training camp starts in less than four weeks, but Dallas Mavericks rookie Justin Anderson already is dreaming about the moment when the regular season begins and he gets to share the court with teammate Dirk Nowitzki.
“I remember, I think I’ve said this specifically, going to get his jersey when I was younger,” Anderson said Tuesday. “I think when it’s going to really hit me is when we step on the court together and we compete together to try and win a game. That’s going to be a surreal moment.
“Hopefully, we can win that game so I can give him a big hug afterward.”
Anderson gave out plenty of hugs Tuesday when he helped the Mavs unveil the Reading & Learning Center at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth Eastside Branch. The Mavs are expecting the hugs to continue as the upcoming season progresses and their talented first-round pick begins to learn the nuances of the NBA game.
“I think he’s got a tremendous upside,” Mavs assistant coach Jamahl Mosley said. “Everybody has talked about his NBA build, his NBA-ready body.
“But I really think that he has a great mind for the game, as well, and he’s a willing worker. So I think that’s going to help him out tremendously walking into our system.”
Anderson was selected out of Virginia with the 21st pick of June’s draft. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder can play both shooting guard and small forward, but he’s ready to contribute wherever the Mavs need him.
“I know, as of right now, I’m working as hard as I can to just develop and be the best that I can be in the system,” Anderson said. “I think we’re all starting to focus individually on ourselves, because once ... we start training camp and when we start pickup [games], we’ll start to get to know each other.
“I’m not really sure about the NBA game and how it works because I haven’t played my first NBA minute. Summer league, I don’t know that it counts. As of right now, being a rookie, I’m just going to worry about what can I do to help this team, and I’m still trying to identify that.”
The Mavs saw enough from Anderson in July’s summer league to know he has the skills to grab a spot in their rotation.
“I think he grew each game,” Mosley said. “I think that was a big part about his progression.
“As the games went on, he started to understand it, watching film and trying to see what he needed to improve on. I think he did a really great job of understanding what we were asking of him, and then getting better at it each game.”
As far as where the Mavs plan to utilize Anderson, Mosley was non-committal.
“He’s a little bit of a basketball player — that’s what we need in our system,” Mosley said. “Guys that understand the game, that can play the game wherever he can fit in and kind of contribute and help out. I think that’s what we like him to be.”
Anderson has a solid chance to become the Mavs’ most productive rookie since Josh Howard in 2003. He steadfastly wants it known that he’s driven by team success. Personal achievements are secondary.
“I have a couple of personal goals, but at the same time I’m so team-driven that those personal goals — I keep those in the back of my mind,” Anderson said. “And if they occur, then that’s the moment I’ll share them.”