DALLAS – This wasn’t precisely the auspicious NBA debut Justin Anderson had in mind.
The rookie from Virginia struggled mightily Tuesday night as the Dallas Mavericks dropped a 96-86 preseason opener to the Denver Nuggets before 17,038 at American Airlines Center. Anderson finished with just one point on 0-of-4 shooting, and also collected one block, one rebound and no assists while turning the ball over twice.
Despite his failings, Anderson counted Tuesday’s game all a joy and is encouraged about the future.
"It was good to get out there for the first time and compete with the whole team,’’ said Anderson, who missed all four of his shots from 3-point range. "It was a good learning opportunity.
"That’s what this is for.’’
The Mavs made Anderson the 21st overall pick of last June’s NBA Draft with high hopes that he could fill their needs as a rotation player at shooting guard and small forward. The nightmare that occurred Tuesday is not what the Mavs anticipated.
"It’s jumping into the deep end when you come out of college and go into your first NBA game and you have to start against starting-caliber players,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "He learned a lot tonight and the other thing he’s going to learn is that the games come quickly.’’
Real quickly, since the Mavs will play their second preseason game at Houston on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Toyota Center. But Carlisle doesn’t appear disenchanted about a rookie in the baptism stage of his pro career.
"He’s going to be a good player,’’ Carlisle said of Anderson. "He got in some situations tonight he’s never been in with this level of athlete.
"I thought he did some positive things. He had some very good looks, stepped into some that were just in and out.’’
In the end, all of Anderson’s shot failed to find their intended destinations. But Carlisle sees Anderson’s glass as half-full.
"His stuff with what he shot from the field – I’m not concerned about that,’’ Carlisle said. "A couple of times he left his feet and got into a couple of tough situations, and he’ll learn from that.’’
So what did Anderson learned from Tuesday’s no-show?
"I learned to stay faithful to the little things," he said, "and that helped me to get so many looks out of the corner."
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. on dfwiradio.com.