DALLAS – Exactly a month into his rookie season in the NBA, and playing time has been very scarce for Justin Anderson.
The 6-6 guard/forward from Virginia has played a total of 84 minutes for the Dallas Mavericks so far. Or as many minutes as Anderson would have played by now in two-and-a-half college games.
But the sitting and waiting for an opportunity hasn’t been difficult for Anderson, who said he is learning valuable lessons watching the veterans that are playing ahead of him.
"Of course you’re going to always bite at your chops as a competitor, and that’s how I am,’’ Anderson said following Saturday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. "I just want to compete, especially in big games, but you’ve got to do your time.
"I did my time in high school at Montrose Christian, I did my time at Virginia, and I’m going to have to do my time at this level as well, and I think this may be the point that I am today. It’s no secret to the formula, and I’m just going to be ready once again when my name is called.’’
Anderson could invariably get his number called Saturday night at 7:30 when the Mavs (9-7) host the Denver Nuggets (6-10) at AAC. Guard J. J. Barea will miss at least three games with a sprained right ankle, and Anderson may be in line to receive some of the 19.8 minutes per game the 10-year veteran has played thus far this season.
Anderson, though, is crestfallen that if his minutes are increased it’s because of an injured teammate.
"With no J. J., first off it’s going to be tough because we don’t have that spark that we’re used to having with him coming off the bench, that consistency that we’ve had knowing what he’s capable of doing when he comes in the game,’’ Anderson said. "When I saw him went down (in Wednesday’s game against San Antonio) I felt so bad and I was praying and everything for him to get better not knowing what it is.
"But as far as for me, if coach calls my number I have to try to bring that same spark. Not necessarily scoring the ball the way he does, but just bringing that energy and try to help our team get a win.’’
So far Anderson has played in 12 of the Mavs’ 16 games and is averaging three points, 1.3 rebounds and seven minutes per contest.
Anderson said he’s very comfortable in a role where he’s coming off the bench. Besides, unless the circumstances are extraordinary, rookies drafted where he was drafted – No. 21 overall on the first round -- usually don’t crack the starting lineup of a veteran-laden squad.
"I want to play to help this team win, and it’s not about any selfish individual goals,’’ Anderson said. "It’s about just doing whatever it takes to try to learn as much as I can, and I’ve learned so much by watching and whenever I get an opportunity to get out there and do what I’ve learned, it’s always a great thing.
"I’m very comfortable. I can’t wait.’’
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com