Is Justin Anderson a keeper? Brett Brown letting him shoot enough to find out

Is Justin Anderson a keeper? Brett Brown letting him shoot enough to find out

Brett Brown has had Justin Anderson for all of six games, so he's not yet rushing to judgment about whether or not the 23-year-old swingman is a keeper.

But he's liked what he's seen so far.

"The more time that we spend with him, I'll be a better judge of how quickly he picks things up, a better judge of what you think peoples' ceilings might be," Brown said after Anderson's 19-point game against the Bucks Monday.

"It's been such a quick snapshot that it's unfair really to project out. I think that, from my gut feel, when you talk with him and ask him different questions, there's a good vibe that comes out of that conversation and you feel like there possibly is a keeper because he ticks so many skill packages."

Anderson has had 19 points in two of his last three games, shooting 8 for 12 against the Knicks and 9 for 16 against the Bucks. In the Milwaukee game, he went 0 for 6 from three and 9 for 10 from two, also contributing six rebounds and three assists.

Anderson, acquired on trade deadline day from the Mavericks for Nerlens Noel, has also brought the Sixers a sorely needed infusion of energy during this down period. He's already proven to be the best dunker on the team and the second-most active defender to Robert Covington.

As with most swingmen, Anderson's ceiling will be determined by how well he shoots from long range. In 112 NBA games, he's taken 224 threes and made just 28.1 percent of them, an ugly figure.

If the Sixers can ever get Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the court at the same time, they're going to need to surround them with 3-and-D players like Covington. If Anderson can become another complementary piece, he could have a role on their second unit.

"Does he fit how we want to play? Can he play fast? Can he make a shot? Does he have a toughness?" Brown asked rhetorically. "Defense, pace and space. From time to time he shows, yes he can, in all three of those categories.

"When you look at his age, his body and physical gifts, I get excited to coach him."

If it was 1985, you could look at a player like Anderson and say, "Drive to the basket, finish in traffic, play some D and you'll have done your job." But in today's NBA, if you're a 2 or a 3 and you can't shoot from distance, you're just not that valuable.

With much more opportunity for playing time as a Sixer, Anderson will have the chance to keep shooting threes in game situations. You can take as many wide-open treys as you want in practice, but those are no match for live game reps.

"Luckily, I now have a coach who's super cool, who comes down to the end of the bench and he says, 'Because this team is so long, space out even further. Shoot with confidence, be cocky with your shot,'" Anderson said, referring to the Bucks' length. 

"As a player, when you hear that, it just gives you that thing in your mind that you let all doubt go, it doesn't matter what you're shooting, you take the best three available.

"One of the first things that [Brown] told me when I got traded is that he thinks that I can improve my three-point shooting. He likes the way I shoot the ball, thinks I have a nice stroke. He said I'm gonna take a lot of threes and there may be a lot of misses, but we're going to keep taking them.

"For him to tell not just me that but the whole team, it shows his trust in our ability to shoot the basketball and we've just got to keep letting it go."

The Sixers lack a go-to scorer and rely on constant ball movement, so Anderson will have many more opportunities to let 'em go this season.

How much progress he's able to make in that department will determine whether he becomes a valuable piece in the Covington mold or just another player who came through town during the process.

Allen Iverson gives Sixers all he has from crowd in comeback

Allen Iverson gives Sixers all he has from crowd in comeback


Allen Iverson intently watched the Sixers pull out a 120-116 win over the Nets Friday standing on the court of the Wells Fargo Center (see observations)

After the buzzer sounded, he gave an impromptu postgame press conference as he walked through the room where Brett Brown addresses the media. 

“I’m very familiar with this right here,” Iverson said, laying his hand on the podium. 

When the topic of his desire to get in the game and still play came up, the 42-year-old Hall of Famer replied, “I always want to help, but I’m too old to help. I can’t help no more … I can’t play no more. “The Answer” has gone to heaven and Allen Iverson is still here.” 

Iverson was very much a part of the game from the sidelines. He stood during the final stretch in the fourth quarter, enthusiastically reacted to calls, and high-fived fans as the Sixers closed out the victory in the final seconds. 

“It’s awesome,” Ben Simmons said. “He wants us to win. He’s behind us. He can obviously see we have a lot of potential, which is awesome coming from him.” 

Iverson made a request about the Sixers, who at 38-30 are chasing a return to the playoffs and possibly home-court advantage. 

“Treat my ‘little dudes,’” Iverson said with air quotes, referencing how he described the players in an interview last week, “treat them right and give them a chance.”

The Sixers noticed Iverson's encouragement. 

“I saw him, I saw the support,” Joel Embiid said. “I like it. Like he said, we are his little dudes. I appreciate the support.” 

Goran Dragic helps Heat snap road losing streak

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Goran Dragic helps Heat snap road losing streak

LOS ANGELES — Goran Dragic scored 30 points, including a go-ahead jumper in the final seconds, and the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 92-91 on Friday night.

Miami trailed 91-90 after Kyle Kuzma made a 3-pointer for Los Angeles with 1:23 left. But Dragic got the lead back for the Heat with about 15 seconds remaining and Isaiah Thomas missed a 10-foot fallaway jumper at the buzzer for the Lakers.

Kelly Olynyk scored 17 points for Miami. James Johnson had 12 points, and Bam Adebayo added 11 points and eight rebounds.

The road win left the Heat 15 1/2 games back in the Eastern Conference, in a virtual tie with Milwaukee for seventh. Miami (37-33) has played two more games than the Bucks.

DeRozan lifts Raptors to 11th-straight win
TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan made the game-winning basket in overtime and the Toronto Raptors rallied to match the longest winning streak in franchise history, extending their season-best run to 11 by beating the Dallas Mavericks 122-115 on Friday night.

DeRozan scored 29 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and 12 rebounds as the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors won for the 18th time in 19 games. Kyle Lowry got the night off to rest as the Raptors played the second game of the back-to-back.

Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet each scored 14 points, helping Toronto improved to an NBA-best 29-5 at home.

Dallas had won three of four. Harrison Barnes scored 27 points for the Mavericks, Dennis Smith Jr. had 19 and J.J. Barea 18 (see full recap).

Rozier, Celtics hold off Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. — Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe each scored 17 points, helping the Boston Celtics beat the Orlando Magic 92-83 on Friday night.

Boston stopped a two-game losing streak despite shooting just 37.8 percent from the field. Al Horford had 15 points for the Celtics, and Abdel Nader finished with 11.

Orlando lost for the sixth time in seven games. Reserve Shelvin Mack scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Jonathon Simmons and D.J. Augustin had 13 apiece (see full recap).

Shorthanded Warriors fall at home to Kings
OAKLAND, Calif. — Buddy Hield made three free throws over the final 27.5 seconds, Willie Cauley-Stein had a late dunk and the Sacramento Kings won for the second time this season on Golden State's home floor, beating a Warriors team missing its top three scorers 98-93 on Friday night.

Hield finished with 22 points off the bench. He also had seven assists and seven rebounds.

Quinn Cook scored a career-high 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting for Golden State, making his initial seven shots and also hitting a career-best five 3-pointers after Kevin Durant was lost to a broken rib in a discouraging pregame announcement for the defending champions.

Draymond Green returned from a one-game injury absence to produce 14 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocked shots (see full recap).