Washington Wizards present another career opportunity for Justin Anderson

Washington Wizards Justin Anderson (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Justin Anderson (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

After bouncing around the league, forward Justin Anderson has another chance at cracking an NBA roster with the Washington Wizards.

Former first-round pick Justin Anderson is looking for another opportunity to plant himself on an NBA roster. Luckily for him, the Washington Wizards are in need of some help.

Their roster is injury ridden heading into training camp with all of Isaiah Thomas, Ian Mahinmi, John Wall, Troy Brown, Admiral Schofield, and CJ Miles listed as non-participants for now.

Washington signed Anderson to a non-guaranteed deal before the sling of injuries struck. And now, it’s looking like a move that will pay off large in the short term. Here’s a look at Anderson’s game, where it fits in this Wizards roster, and his chances at cracking the rotation.


The Dallas Mavericks took Anderson, a former Virginia product, with the 21st pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. He was thought of as a three-and-d prospect, but was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in just his second season with Dallas.

The 76ers got arguably the best version of Anderson to date. He started the 2017-2018 campaign with them, and played the best basketball of his young NBA career. The forward was a scoring presence off the bench for Philadelphia and showed promise as a defender (16.5 points and 1.0 steals per 36).

But, in something that’s become a theme throughout Anderson’s career, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks as a part of the infamous Carmelo Anthony to Atlanta deal . He played just 48 games for the Hawks, averaging only 3.7 points during his 9.7 minutes per game.

Once in Atlanta, Anderson still flashed the same signs of impressive scoring ceiling even while coming off the bench. Here’s a 24-point, 12-rebound performance from a late March win over the Milwaukee Bucks:

Anderson played the year out in Atlanta, and then entered free agency, eventually signing on with the Washington Wizards. How will his game translate to their roster’s needs?

In Search of Small Forwards

Washington’s roster is thinning by the day. The injury bug somehow made its way into the locker room and the team isn’t letting go. Ahead of training camp, the Wizards have not one healthy player that identifies as a true small forward.

Troy Brown, CJ Miles, and even rookie Admiral Schofield are all out to start the year. Which makes Anderson’s chances at making the roster, well, whatever’s over one hundred percent. Positionally, he’s a near-lock to be in the starting lineup come opening night simply out of necessity.

At small forward, Anderson will see the opportunity to bring the ball up in multiple situations, with star point guard John Wall still rehabbing from an Achilles’ injury. It’ll benefit Bradley Beal to have time spent playing off the ball, after averaging a career-high 5.5 assists last season.

Additionally, towards the end of the last two seasons, Anderson started to really connect on his three-point shot. After shooting just 28 percent from deep in his first two years, the forward improved to a 32 percent shooter over the last two seasons.

For a Wizards team that finished in the top half of the league in both three-pointers made and attempted last year, maintaining a roster that can knock it down from deep is essential. Anderson adds another potential weapon to a roster that needs them badly.

Commitment to the Culture

Every player in Washington knows it’s going to be a tough year for the Wizards. But the attitude in the locker room remains positive. Players believe that this team can be competitive and challenge teams night in and night out. Part of Anderson’s upside is that he’s seemingly bought-in on the new culture already.

In an interview with SLAM magazine, the 25-year old claims he’s only in Washington to fill in the holes on the roster, and help the team get more wins:

"“I’m not a guy that’s going to iso and score buckets. That’s not my game. My game is to play a role, fill a void, play defense, play hard, play passionately,” Anderson said."

That kind of attitude will be more than welcome in a year that poses more questions than answers both on and off the floor for the Wizards. They’re without their starting point guard, limited cap space to fill the injury caused voids on the roster, and they’re already counted out as a playoff team.

Having guys like Anderson who are playing to show they can impact the team in a way that results in wins is important for Washington. They need the player as much as he needs a team.

Next. Three things to watch during the Wizards' Preseason. dark

Anderson’s been moved around the league and not given the volume of minutes or continuity required to really branch out as a talent. The fundamentals of his game are evident and for a team like the Washington Wizards, this a low-risk, high-reward signing.

And for Anderson himself, it’s his next shot at a career in the NBA. Has he found a home in Washington?