I don’t usually like heaping praise on players in full blog form for a very small stretch of games (unless the stretch was as ridiculous Kyle Lowry’s to start the season), but when it comes to Alan Anderson, he could go the rest of the season without playing another good minute, and I’d still be okay with the fact that I praised him after one good performance and one week of the season.
Anderson’s case is so unique and so deserving of praise, of course, because he’s one of the rare journeymen veterans who earned a legitimate rotation spot through an initial 10-day contract. Pops Mensah-Bonsu thrilled fans for about a week, but I don’t think anyone really took that seriously (or at least I hope they didn’t), while Jamario Moon and Sonny Weems come to mind as recent examples of guys who went from mere roster fillers to rotation players, but neither was on a 10-day contract.
After going undrafted in 2005, Anderson played 53 games for the Bobcats between 2005-2007, and while he was nowhere near an impact player, he did average over 13 points per 36 minutes while shooting a solid 37.2 per cent from three-point range during those two seasons in Charlotte.
After that, Anderson spent parts of six seasons in the D-League, Italy, Russia, Croatia, Israel, Spain and China before finally landing back in the NBA thanks to a 10-day contract with the clearly tanking Raptors in the final month of the 2011-2012.
From there, Anderson earned himself a second 10-day contract, then earned a starting job with a Raptors team trying to find an identity and a contract for the remainder of the 2011-12 season. He shot the three well (over 39%) in his 17 games as a Raptor last year, which included 12 starts, but also didn’t do much else on the floor and sometimes looked like a chucker just trying to earn a paycheck.
So when the season ended, I assumed the Alan Anderson Era in Toronto would end with it, and certainly didn’t expect that the Raptors would bring back the 30-year-old to be part of a 2012-13 team that was expected to at least push for a playoff spot in the East.
Even when it was announced that Anderson was signed for 2012-13, I saw him as a definite end of the bench, garbage time player who should just be happy he was even on an NBA bench, so much so that at one point early in the pre-season, I tweeted this.
Anderson has already proven me wrong by earning a spot in the team’s regular season rotation, at least to start the year, and is now making a push to take this improbable journey even farther.
While he’s really only played one good game out of three thus far, Anderson’s asserted himself as a legitimate three-point weapon in Toronto who will give you at least average defence on the wing, and if that continues as the season moves along while Landry Fields continues to struggle, will anyone really be surprised to see Anderson starting again for the Raptors this year?
I’m beginning to think it’s a legitimate possibility, premature as it may be, and that in itself is a remarkable accomplishment for Anderson on a team approaching actual expectations this season.
What led to Moon and Weems’ downfalls with the Raptors was that both seemed to forget what had earned them their minutes in the first place, as both players began trying to play well outside of their limits in an environment that didn’t hold either accountable for that change in style. Perhaps the older, more mature Anderson can avoid that same fate within Dwane Casey’s system, and can actually carve out a permanent role with this team going forward.
Regardless, the fact that he’s even made himself a relevant talking point for Raptors fans at age 30 considering his journey to get here is worthy of some praise.