But a nagging stress fracture in his right foot forced Anderson to miss 56 games during his rookie season.
And on the Spurs, with their ocean-deep rotation that has even gobbled up former starter DuJuan Blair and exiled him to the end of the bench, you can get lost quickly.
“We got some of the best players on this team, and it's tough,” Anderson said. “You got to fight through a lot to get minutes and it happened the way it happened. I can't complain.”
But giving up on Anderson so quickly would be naive.
He's a recently turned 23-year-old with an NBA body, smooth jumper and diverse offensive game. There's a place for him in this league. He's just trying to find it.
“The good thing about James, every time he gets in the game, we call him instant offense,” forward Stephen Jackson said. “As soon as he gets in the game, he makes a difference and he scores.”
But for now, Anderson will have to continue featuring that skill set in practices and blowouts, happily soaking in the experience and atmosphere that comes as a glorified spectator in the Western Conference Finals.
“It's just a numbers game, that's how it is in the NBA,” Jackson said. “We've all been through it. I've been through it in my career. You just got to wait your turn. He'll be great, but we are a deep team. When his opportunity comes, I'm sure he will take full advantage.”