COMMENTARY | In three NBA seasons prior to the 2013-2014 season, James Anderson started a total of six games. This season, his first with the Philadelphia 76ers, he has started all nine contests to begin the year.
The 76ers have impressed in the early going and the other four starters -- Evan Turner, Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes -- are getting all the publicity. Anderson, on the other hand, has had a very quiet beginning to the season.
It took playing the team that waived him this summer to wake him up from his slumber.
In Philadelphia's 123-117 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets, Anderson scored 36 points on 12-16 shooting in 44 minutes of action.
"I got in a rhythm early and guys did a good job finding me," Anderson told the media after the game. "I finally got an opportunity and it's great timing."
Anderson signed with the Houston Rockets on January 2 of last season and remained with the team for the remainder of the season, appearing in 29 games and starting two. The former San Antonio Spurs first-round draft pick was waived this summer by the Houston Rockets and picked up by Philadelphia.
He earned a spot in the starting lineup but hasn't produced like the other starters, who all have averaged double-digits in points this season.
Anderson, in the first eight games of the season, was averaging only 6.9 points per game despite averaging 32.3 minutes per game. This includes scoring only one point in 30 minutes in the team's 107-104 win over the Chicago Bulls in the third game of the season.
Scoring isn't the only way a player can contribute to the team and every team needs a guy that is willing to move the ball around, set screens and play good defense.
Anderson's numbers weren't really blowing anyone away, however. On the season, he's averaging 3.7 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game, and 1.0 steals per game. Before Wednesday night, he was shooting 42.3 percent from the field and had some rough shooting nights in the process: 3-8 against Miami, 1-5 against Washington, 0-4 against Chicago, and 3-7 against Golden State.
Still, Philadelphia was exceeding expectations and 76ers head coach Brett Brown didn't give up on the young Anderson.
Anderson rewarded Brown with his performance against his old team, the Rockets, and was a main reason for the victory. Not only did he have a game-high 36 points, but his three-pointer with 6 seconds remaining in regulation, while being closely guarded by Jeremy Lin, tied the game and forced overtime.
It was a good game for Anderson's confidence. It showed that while he isn't the first scoring option on the team, he still is a threat.
On a night where rookie Michael Carter-Williams missed the game due to injury Evan Turner shot a paltry 9-23 (39.1 percent) from the field, Anderson proved that he is capable of taking on some of the scoring burden.
Maybe he just needed a little extra motivation, like going up against a team that released him merely four months ago, to get him going.
Phil Shore lives in New Jersey and is the creator and editor of Shore Thing Sports blog. He's been published in The Boston Globe, Philly.com, FoxSoccer.com, LaxMagazine.com and New England Lacrosse Journal.