What’s interesting about this trade to me is that it proves, once again, that I don’t know anything about basketball potential. In this case, I was clearly wrong about both Nerlens Noel and Justin Anderson. In fact, I had it completely backward.
I thought Justin Anderson would be Jae Crowder with a better shot. I thought he’d be a very good to great NBA player. The Mavs never gave Jae the minutes he deserved and gave up on him too early. I interpreted the Justin Anderson pick to be recognition and atonement for that; they wouldn’t make that mistake with Justin, the new and improved Jae.
I follow the Mavs very closely, and, sadly, have come to the conclusion that Justin Anderson is no Jae Crowder. He is still young, but he clearly doesn’t have Jae’s basketball IQ. This manifests itself in a lack of awareness of the whole court, WAY too many turnovers, poor shot selection, and loss of focus — especially on defense. At the same point in Jae’s Mavs tenure, I couldn’t understand why they didn’t make him their interim point guard (they needed one at the time). The last thing I’d do with Justin is to give him more responsibility. Here’s hoping he fits in better elsewhere, as he’s a quality kid and a wonderful athlete.
I thought Nerlens Noel was tremendously overrated. I was not surprised at all to that the absurd notion that he’d be drafted first or very early did not materialize on draft day. As far as I could tell, he was a tall kid who could jump. That is enough at most levels of basketball, but not close to enough for the NBA. I expected to injure or incompetence himself out of the league.
I should have remembered that I was also ridiculously wrong about Anthony Davis’ potential. Nerlens got better and better, and — unlike Justin — seemed to get smarter and smarter. Like all the best players, he built incrementally on his natural ability. He’s still not a great shooter, but he’s a much better scorer. He passes decently, he plays defense rather than just trying to block shots, and he seems to be thinking ahead more than most.
I wish Justin luck wherever he ends up and am pleased to see Nerlens in a Mavs jersey.