DALLAS (AP) – Justin Anderson offered enough of what Dallas wanted for the Mavericks to stay put with their first-round pick in the NBA draft for the first time in nine years.
Plus, he’s from coach Rick Carlisle’s alma mater, Virginia.
“Obviously comes from a great institution,” Carlisle said with a wry smile. “Well-educated.”
All kidding aside, the Mavericks think they addressed the need for better shooting and defending at the 3-point line by taking the 6-foot-6 Anderson with the 21st pick in the first round Thursday night.
Late in the second round, the Mavericks made 7-foot-2 Satnam Singh the first native of India to get drafted by taking him with the 52nd overall pick. Dallas expects the 19-year-old, who has been at the IMG Academy in Florida since 2010, to start his career in the NBA Development League.
Anderson projects as a shooting guard or small forward, putting him in a similar mold as Chandler Parsons, one of just two returning starters for the Mavericks along with veteran star Dirk Nowitzki.
Dallas has needs at several positions with point guard Rajon Rondo, backcourt mate and leading scorer Monta Ellis and center Tyson Chandler set to become free agents.
Carlisle said Anderson’s style could be similar to Jae Crowder, who went to Dallas in the 2012 draft and was one of the pieces the Mavericks sent to Boston in last season’s trade for Rondo that ended badly with Rondo’s banishment during a first-round playoff loss to Houston.
Anderson, who left Virginia after his junior season, averaged 12.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting 45 percent from 3-point range in a season that was shortened by a broken hand and an appendectomy.
“We have a lot of improving to do shooting and guarding,” said Carlisle, who was on Virginia’s 1984 Final Four team. “This move is a strong move in the direction of addressing both of those needs. He’s in a very good situation because he’s got a chance to be a factor right away to get playing time if he works hard and adapts.”
The Mavericks also need a point guard with Rondo’s departure, but passed on Tyus Jones, who turned pro after winning a national championship as a freshman at Duke. Devin Harris and Raymond Felton are on the roster and can play the point, and Carlisle would like to have J.J. Barea back.
But Dallas could find a starting point guard in free agency, and will pursue either four-time All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge or DeAndre Jordan, one of the league’s best defensive centers.
Because they already have enough salary cap place to be players in free agency, the Mavericks didn’t try to move down in the draft the way they did two years ago when they were counting pennies to build what ended up being a failed bid to land Dwight Howard.
Instead, Dallas held its first-round spot for the first time since 2006, when it took Maurice Ager at No. 28 a few weeks after losing to Miami in the NBA Finals. Ager is among a litany of recent Dallas picks who didn’t stick in the NBA.
If Anderson is different, it will be because he brings a physical defensive presence and becomes a dangerous 3-point threat that the Mavericks lacked after sending Jose Calderon to the New York Knicks in a trade for Chandler before last year’s draft.
Anderson helped Virginia to a school-record 30 wins and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament in his final season. The Cavaliers lost their second tournament game to Michigan State.
“Of course, he hasn’t played in NBA games so there’s always going to be some kind of a learning curve,” Carlisle said. “His strength as a player translates well to the longer 3-point line. He’s one of those rare guys that has the strength to elevate from a long distance and still easily get the ball to the basket and in the basket.”
NOTES: The Mavericks are set to add Melvin Hunt as the lead assistant to Carlisle, replacing Monte Mathis. Hunt played at Baylor and has been on the staffs in Denver and Cleveland. Mathis is joining Scott Skiles’ staff in Orlando.