On March 26, 2012 Alan Anderson signed a ten-day contract with the Toronto Raptors and since then has quickly become the definition of finding a diamond in the rough.
Toronto fans are use to the end of season revolving door of ten-day signees after it’s become clear the team isn’t headed to the postseason. After all, this is the same fan base that turned Pops Mensah-Bonsu into a city-wide sensation to cope with another losing season.
However, through all the contracts handed out over the years it has been rare to see any players stick around the following season until Anderson became the exception after being re-signed in the off-season.
The 6-foot-6 guard traveled the world before finding a home with the Raptors and the team has been benefiting from his presence ever since.
After missing 17 games earlier in the season due to injury, Anderson has returned to average 12 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists off the bench. His hustle and hard-nosed defense have become his most impressive attributes, earning him a permanent spot in coach Dwane Casey’s rotation. Anderson isn’t afraid of anyone on either side of the court, which became obvious after he traded verbal jabs with DeMarcus Cousins.
The guard has played every position besides center at least once this season, showing his flexibility and basketball IQ that allows him to guard multiple positions. Anderson is a smart player, has a hard-working attitude and doesn’t take anything for granted. He doesn’t take anything for granted because he’s simply playing basketball and he knows this opportunity could end at any moment.
Anderson was voted Michigan State Spartans’ MVP in 2005 after a senior year where he averaged 13.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting 55.6% from the floor. He helped the Spartans make a run to the Final Four that spring and in the summer went undrafted but was signed as a free agent by the Charlotte Bobcats. He played 53 games for the Bobcats over two seasons before being let go in the summer of 2007.
After failing to secure a job with another team in the league, Anderson began his worldwide tour to get back to the NBA. He played in the D-League, Russia, Italy, Spain, China, Croatia, and Israel, before the Raptors gave him a second chance in the best basketball league in the world in the spring of 2012. In the five-year span he had won championships in Europe while being a significant player on his teams by winning Croatian Cup MVP (2009) and Spanish Cup MVP (2011) honors.
Anderson is doing everything he can to make the most of his opportunity averaging career highs in nearly every category. His last game proved the guard is only getting more comfortable in Toronto after recording 27 points, four rebounds and three assists.
His experience overseas has made him fearless against opponents as he understands he’s just playing basketball and who’s on the court doesn’t matter. That attribute is what has made him so effective coming off the bench as he picks up the team’s defensive intensity the moment he checks into the game. His recent career-high scoring performance also shows he’s more than capable of putting the ball through the basket.
Anderson isn’t a superstar but every team looking to win a championship needs a player that is willing to do the little things like he is. For that reason, the 30-year old who’s barely in his fourth season in the league has proved he’s the definition of a diamond in the rough.