The first leg of the Dallas Mavericks’ off-season overhaul started in earnest Thursday when they used the 21st pick in the NBA Draft to select Virginia small forward Justin Anderson.
And coach Rick Carlisle wasted no time describing Anderson’s immediate value.
“He’s in a very good situation as I mentioned, because he’s got a chance to be a factor right away and get playing time if he works hard and adapts,” Carlisle said. “And he’ll have our summer camps and our summer league in Vegas, which is the closest thing to an NBA game you could simulate with 26 teams out there and a lot of veterans out there and really game-type environments.
“It’s an exciting night for him, and we’re really pleased as well.”
Thursday also was an exciting night for Satnam Singh Bhamara. The Mavericks chose the 7-foot-2, 290-pound center from India in the second round — No. 52 overall.
Bhamara becomes the first player born in India who was drafted by an NBA team, and likely will be a long-term project.
Meanwhile, Anderson (6-6, 228) averaged 12.2 points and four rebounds in 27.8 minutes while playing 26 games — 23 starts — this past season for the Cavaliers. He also shot 46.6 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from 3-point range.
Carlisle likes the idea that Anderson is a multi-purpose player who, in addition to small forward, can switch over and play shooting guard.
“The league is going the direction of guys with flexibility that can guard multiple positions,” Carlisle said. “Switching is becoming a bigger part of the game defensively, and so he’s a guy that’s got the foot speed to guard small guys, and he’s got the strength to hang with the bigger guys around the basket.
“He’s got a lot of the tools you look for in this day and age in the NBA. He checks a lot of boxes.”
Anderson played three seasons at Virginia — Carlisle’s alma mater — before declaring for the draft. This past season he was third-team All-American and second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference while impressing a lot of pro scouts.
“We feel he’s a solid defender, and he’s a guy whose shooting has gotten better each of the last three years,” Carlisle said. “He shot 45 percent from three this past season.
“We spent quite a bit of time with him. We interviewed him in Chicago [at the pre-draft camp]. We watched his workout there, and then he was in here two or three weeks ago for a workout, and we got a chance to spend more time with him.”
A product of Montrose Christian School in Maryland — the school that Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant attended — Anderson is a “unique” player in the eyes of the Mavericks.
“We believe that he’s got an NBA body, and he’s one of the strongest kids in the draft positionally,” Carlisle said. “He’s in a good position coming here. He’s a terrific kid and he’ll represent this franchise well.”
With the Mavericks earlier parting ways with Rajon Rondo midway through the first round of the playoffs, they had serious discussions about drafting a point guard in the first round. But even though Duke point guard Tyus Jones was on the board when it came time for the Mavericks to pick, they instead decided to grab Anderson.
“There was a group of three guys who we really liked,” Carlisle said. “And Justin was one of them.”
Anderson watched the drafted in Fredericksburg, Va., with 100-150 family members and friends during a rain storm, and he said the satellite TV kept going out. He also paid homage to Carlisle, who shined during his tenure playing for Virginia from 1982-84
“He’s a big deal in Virginia,” Anderson said of Carlisle. “So many people have already hit me up to say, ‘You’re going to be with coach Carlisle … I’m sure he’s ecstatic to have you.’ So Coach has a lot of pull in Charlottesville.”
So, too, does Anderson. And the Mavericks are banking on his expertise translating to the NBA.
“Again, he’s a kid that will impress you on the court. and he’ll impress with his personality and his demeanor and his way,” Carlisle said. “He’s real sincere.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760
Justin Anderson bio
Position: Small forward
Height: 6-6 Weight: 231
Pick: 21st pick overall