If you're like most of the NBA-watching public, all you know about James Anderson is that he exploded for 36 points against the Houston Rockets, outshining Jeremy Lin's monster game and giving the Philadelphia 76ers a highly entertaining 123-117 overtime win on Wednesday night.
Frankly, he hadn't done much in his previous three seasons to warrant your attention.
So, in an effort to catch everyone up, here are the basics: Anderson is a fourth-year guard out of Oklahoma State who spent a little over two seasons doing next to nothing with the San Antonio Spurs before winding up with the Rockets midway through the 2012-13 season.
Anderson was the 20th pick in the 2010 draft, so his career scoring average of just 3.9 points per game probably qualifies him as something of a disappointment.
Houston cut the 6'6" wing before the 2013-14 season, and he landed with a Sixers team many projected to threaten the record for fewest wins in a season.
Now you're all caught up.
Well, almost. There are a handful of other fascinating tidbits that Anderson's prolific evening revealed. Let's get acquainted.
He Is Flammable
It's hard to know whether Anderson is literally combustible, and it would probably be inadvisable (and illegal) to try to find out. But in the figurative sense, there's absolutely no doubt that the Sixers shooting guard has the ability to go all Human Torch on opponents.
Anderson ignited early, hitting a pair of shots in the lane and a straight-on three-pointer in the first quarter. He banged home two more triples and a layup in the second period, then followed that up with a couple of short jumpers in the third.
After the game's first 36 minutes, I guess you could say Anderson had been on a slow burn. But in the fourth quarter, he turned up the heat. Three long-range bombs and a layup later, the Sixers guard had put up a total of 36 points in one of the most efficient scoring efforts of the NBA season.
In all, Anderson was 12-of-16 from the field, 6-of-8 from beyond the arc and 6-of-6 from the foul line. For the graphically inclined, here's the visual evidence.
James Anderson had a heck of a game for the 76ers from both inside and outside. His shot chart- pic.twitter.com/muBSyFhdI8— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 14, 2013
He Is Vengeful
Daryl Morey is widely regarded as one of the shrewdest general mangers in the league. From an analytics perspective, Houston is always on the cutting edge of NBA trends.
The Rockets started firing up threes and pushing the pace before it was cool. They stockpiled mid-first-round draft picks with the sole intention of swapping them long before the rest of the league followed suit. Hell, they even brought the "poison pill" contract back into the NBA lexicon.
That's all Morey.
Based on what we saw Wednesday, Anderson isn't impressed with any of that stuff. Instead, he was a little ticked off about being cut loose by Morey and the Rockets.
A reminder that James Anderson was waived by the Rockets five months ago. 34 points tonight.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) November 14, 2013
And his wrath was a thing to behold.
Sixers' James Anderson scored 6.8% of his career points in this one game. He has played 125 NBA games. Nice work, Rockets.— SportsPickle (@sportspickle) November 14, 2013
Don't misunderstand; Anderson wasn't shooting dirty looks at anybody or throwing elbows at his former teammates. But there's just no way to view his 36-point night that doesn't include the notion of vengeance.
He Impresses International Audiences and Has a Cool Nickname
The NBA is a global game, but it's a rare performance that can so quickly draw the admiration of fans from around the world. Anderson managed to earn praise from viewers in lands as distant as Australia and Canada.
The Starters' Leigh Ellis, resident Aussie, was brief in his Twitter praise for Anderson:
Too cool, James Anderson, too cool.— Leigh Ellis (@LeighEllis) November 14, 2013
And J.E. Skeets, Ellis' co-worker, transplanted Canadian and host of The Starters, had already picked out an outfit to wear in the event Anderson reached the 40-point mark:
If you're at all suspicious that this section was contrived solely to mention that Rockets color commentator Matt Bullard refers to Anderson as "Mr. Anderson," you're correct. Yes, The Matrix is more than 15 years behind us, but Anderson's awesome nickname (always spoken in Hugo Weaving's menacing tone) is just too terrific to skip over.
That was 47 "Mr. Andersons," if you were counting. It's a real shame he stopped at 36 points. That clip would have been perfect.
He Did Not Surprise His Coach
New 76ers head coach Brett Brown is so obviously a pupil of the Gregg Popovich school of media relations.
Having spent seven seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Brown's stoic, reserved praise for his backcourt's incredible evening was fitting.
#Sixers Brett Brown: 'I thought James Anderson and Tony played exactly as I thought they would. They both had great games.'— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) November 14, 2013
Exactly as he thought they would? Really?
Maybe Tony Wroten—who notched a triple-double in his first NBA start—and Anderson have been doing some incredible stuff in practice. That's the only way to explain how Brown managed to be the one human being on Earth who wasn't completely stunned by how Philly's backcourt played.
What would Anderson had to have done to shock his coach? Thwart a terrorist attack at halftime? Repair the crack in the Liberty Bell?
Brown's a tough guy to please.
He Is Not Afraid of the Moment
I know we spent some time talking about how Anderson was on fire, which makes the fact that he also has ice water in his veins scientifically impossible. But that's what 36-point efforts from NBA journeymen do: They cause rampant mixing of metaphors as writers struggle to explain the unexplainable.
Trailing by three with just seconds remaining, Anderson corralled a rainbow pass from Wroten well beyond the three-point arc. Lin was all over him, but he managed to dribble hard to his left, pull up and squeeze off a totally contested triple.
Dagger. Tie game.
Anderson looked frighteningly calm in the face of immense pressure, which might be somewhat understandable given the overflowing sense of confidence he must have been feeling.
The Sixers went on to outscore the Rockets 17-11 in overtime, a period in which Anderson was, incredibly, scoreless.
He'd done his damage, though.
He Might Never Do This Again
To be totally honest, the odds of Anderson repeating his remarkable 36-point effort are slim. After all, his season-high last year was just 14.
At just 24 and finally getting an opportunity to play heavy minutes, I suppose it's possible that he'll get hot a few more times during the year. But realistically, it's going to be impossible for Anderson to put together this kind of volume and efficiency again.
But if he ever goes off again, at least now you can say you've been properly acquainted.