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Simba just can’t wait to be King.

Simba just can’t wait to be King.



Justin Anderson (a.k.a. Simba) played with the heart of a lion for the Dallas Mavericks towards the end of the 2015-2016 season. His energy, both as a starter and off the bench, was just what the doctor ordered when Chandler Parsons went down with yet another season-ending knee injury. In Parson’s absence, Anderson looked like a guy that was tired of bouncing back and forth between the Mavs and the Texas Legends. He was hungry for a bigger role and a chance to solidify a rotation spot. After a long, grinding rookie year, he finally got his chance towards the end of the regular season. He didn’t disappoint.


In a playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he spent a lot of time guarding Kevin Durant, the rook averaged 9.4 points, 4 rebounds, 1.4 assists per game. The numbers weren’t eye-popping, but some of the plays he made were:



You just don’t see rookies making plays like that very often, especially in the playoffs. Anderson’s importance to the Mavs down the stretch can’t be measured by numbers alone. He proved that he wasn’t scared of the moment, and that should be an encouraging sign for a franchise that has seen its fair share of draft pick disappointments over the years.


Physically, Anderson has a build that should be able to withstand a long NBA career, standing at 6’6” and weighing roughly 230 pounds. He showcased his superior athleticism before ever stepping foot on an NBA court, registering a 43” max vertical leap at the 2015 NBA Combine.


Mentally, Anderson showed that he has a very high basketball IQ. A lot of his maturity comes from spending 3 years at the University of Virginia. He had a great coach and person to learn from in Tony Bennett. Anderson’s willingness to listen and ask questions will make it easier for him to grow in the early stages of his career.


When considering his personality, Anderson is one of the coolest guys you’ll meet. He’s very humble and down to earth, and has quickly become a fan favorite. It’s no wonder that he’s already such good friends with Dirk Nowitzki (Anderson often refers to him as “Six” for being 6th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list). Even though he’s a really nice person, he does have a tendency to be rude to his opponents every now and then:



All things considered, I see Anderson being a really good NBA player for many years to come. The real question though, is if he can eventually be great. He’s definitely got the potential. He’s got the physical and mental tools. He’s got the work ethic, teammates and coaching staff to help him get there. If players are going to become great, they usually start making that leap within their first few years in the league. It’ll be fun to track his progression as this upcoming season gets underway.


With Dallas bringing in Harrison Barnes as their new starting small forward, it’ll be interesting to see what lineups Rick Carlisle comes up with to get Anderson a decent amount of playing time off the bench. I think Barnes and Anderson have the potential to be one of the best wing duos in the NBA from a defensive perspective. Whatever role Anderson ends up having this season, I’m confident that he will continue to “wow” Mavs Nation with timely blocks and ferocious dunks. As a fan base yearning for a new era of greatness, maybe, just maybe, some of that can be provided by Justin Anderson in the years to come. It takes time for players to reach their full potential, and we’ll be tuned in all season long to see if this is going to be his breakout year.

Born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I received my Bachelor's degree in Business Administration - Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern Mississippi. If you're unfamiliar with Southern Miss, think Brett Favre. I'm currently working full time as a salesperson for my family business. My fiancé and I are huge MFFLs, and we never pass up a chance to see the guys play in person.

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