SAN ANTONIO — James Anderson sits sandwiched between two of the NBA's best guards inside San Antonio's dimly-lit locker room at the AT&T Center. Tony Parker's black swivel chair is stationed to Anderson's left. George Hill parks it immediately to Anderson's right.
Three cubicles down is future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan.
For Anderson, the former star at Oklahoma State, there is not a better place to begin his professional journey.
"It's a big relief," Anderson said before Monday's exhibition against the Thunder. "It's such a great organization. You really don't have any pressure on your back. You can just play and learn the game."
Since the Spurs selected Anderson 20th overall in June, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year has been busy doing nothing but learning. The biggest adjustment thus far, Anderson said, has been familiarizing himself with so much more terminology and so many more schemes that require his full focus.
It didn't help Anderson that he missed the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas because of a hamstring injury. But he's shown his promise early this preseason, entering Monday's game averaging 5.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 18.8 minutes through four preseason games.
"Everybody's been a great help," Anderson said. "All the vets are teaching me stuff here and there about where to be and when to be there. It's just a lot of little stuff that I need to know and pick up on."
After averaging 24 points in Big 12 play last season and establishing himself as one of the best scoring guards in the country, Anderson's reputation for getting buckets preceded his arrival in San Antonio. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and the rest of the coaching staff now want to see Anderson improve his defense. It's a requisite Anderson says is challenging but one that he thinks is being accelerated through practice battles against the likes of Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson.
"When I'm not guarding them, I'm looking at them and paying close attention to see how they work within the system," Anderson said. "And them defending me is helping me out on my offense. It's a great way to come in as a rookie."
Anderson said he misses OSU but added he knew it was time to move on.
"I'm always going to be a Cowboy," he said.
When asked what's been the best part of the ride so far, Anderson started by looking to his left, then to his right.
"Just being able to be a part of this organization," Anderson said. "It's a privilege."