Sixers Stay or Go Series: James Anderson

So far, I have determined that the Sixers should retain starters Michael Carter-Williams and Thad Young, at PG and PF respectively. Now I move onto their starting SG for most of the season, James Anderson. Anderson was signed last offseason as what seemed like an “extra” that would fill out the roster. Well, Anderson must have impressed people within the organization because he ended up playing in 80 games for the Sixers this past season, more than any other player. How did that happen? Well, it’s not like they had much else…

Anderson was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Spurs, which not so coincidentally was a time when Brett Brown was an assistant coach there. He played two and a half seasons in San Antonio before being waived. The Rockets picked him up a couple weeks later, also not so coincidentally when Sam Hinkie was their GM, but they let him go in the offseason, allowing the Sixers to pick him up. So did they sign Anderson solely based on skill or did it have something to do with his connections to the head coach and GM? We might never know, but it’s certainly something to think about.

As for his play last season, it was by far his most productive season of his career. He averaged 10.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 1.9 APG, all of which were career highs. He also averaged 1.4 3-pointers per game, an area that the Sixers struggled with all season. This was all in 28.9 minutes per game, more than double any previous average of his career. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, here’s my biggest problem with Anderson: he’s incredibly inconsistent.

Anderson may have one game where he goes 4/4 from beyond the arc and contribute all across the stat sheet, but then the very next game he’ll shoot 0/9 and do absolutely nothing to help the team. It is absolutely unacceptable to have a starter that averages nearly 30 minutes a game to finish any game in a season without making a basket. That’s just terrible. Sure, every player is going to have bad shooting nights, and that’s totally fine, but Anderson has them a bit too often. There would sometimes be stretches of 5 or 6 games where he would shoot more than 10 times in a game, which is necessary because someone has to take the shots. Then other games he’d shoot 4 or 5 times and basically disappear. Why does this happen? Believe me, I have no idea.

So Anderson’s inconsistency has multiple layers. It’s frustrating to go into a game and not know what to expect from a player that is supposed to have a pretty big impact for a team. Well, he’s supposed to, but sometimes I got the feeling that he was supposed to just sit back and wait for things to happen. But again, it was random. My evaluation of him was a bit more harsh than CSN Philly, who found the positives in his game. But to be honest, he’s just a career reserve player that only got a ton of minutes because no one else was there to fill in.

It seems likely that the Sixers will draft a SG that has starting potential, so Anderson wouldn’t be needed as much. Also, he’s a free agent and wouldn’t even necessarily come back with the team. I have been a long-time critic of Anderson and have said countless times how he doesn’t deserve to be on this team, but then once in a while he proves me wrong and shows that he has some talent. Which is why I have changed my mind a bit. The Sixers need a guy off the bench that can score, and Anderson does have the ability to score once in a while. Should he be getting close to 30 minutes next year? No, but 15-20 would be okay.

Verdict: re-sign, but move him to a bench role

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