WALTHAM, Mass. — Justin Anderson won’t play his first NBA game for another five months or so, but the 21-year-old already has the Larry O’Brien Trophy in his crosshairs.
“At the end of the day,” Anderson said Monday after completing a pre-draft workout with the Boston Celtics, “it’s about me being on the best team that I can be to try to compete for a championship. I’m thinking long term. I’m thinking championship right off the bat. I want to contribute. Whether I play two minutes, eight minutes, 40 minutes — I want to contribute on a championship team.”
Anderson, who declared for the draft after finishing his junior season at Virginia, might have to wait a bit to fulfill those championship aspirations if the team that worked him out Monday ends up selecting him. Though the Celtics surprised everyone by nabbing a playoff spot this season, it would take some serious offseason magic on Danny Ainge’s part to vault them to contender status.
Regardless, Anderson seemed to embrace the atmosphere during his few hours at Boston’s practice facility.
“My initial thoughts of being in Boston: blue-collar town,” the 6-foot-6 wing said. “You can just feel the history, you can feel the competitiveness. It’s just different. Those guys that won all the championships — man, they were different. They brought something to the city.
“… There’s no Eastern Conference championship (banners hanging over the practice court). It’s all NBA Finals championships. It’s different when you can fill a gym up like that. It had an old-school feeling. The court doesn’t really have much spring to it. It’s like concrete under the court. (The vibe is), like, real gritty, in the dirt. I love every minute of it.”
Some additional notes from Monday’s workout:
— Anderson’s Cavaliers were bounced from each of the last two NCAA Tournaments by Michigan State. Branden Dawson, a forward on both of those Spartans teams, was among the attendees Monday in Waltham.
“I always call him ‘the guy that kills my dreams,’ ” Anderson said. “I’m happy that he didn’t kill them (Monday). I had a great workout. But man, two years in a row they got us in the NCAA Tournament.”
— Anderson said he expected to see Wisconsin combo forward Sam Dekker at the workout, but that Dekker pulled out.
— Celtics point guard Marcus Smart has been giving some advice to Oklahoma State forward LeBryan Nash as Nash prepares for the upcoming NBA draft, but Smart isn’t limiting his counseling to former teammates.
Last year’s No. 6 overall pick has been a fixture this month at the Celtics’ facility, where he’s been able to both work on his own game and get a look at some players he might end up playing alongside this season.
“I was talking to Marcus,” Anderson said. “Me and Marcus played together in high school. I love how tough he is as a guard. I was talking to him a lot.”
What guidance did the rising NBA sophomore give?
“Just stay the course. Keep killin’.”
— Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge typically speaks with reporters after the conclusion of each workout. On Monday, he touched on how a winning college pedigree can improve a prospect’s draft stock.
“Guys who were well-coached and had success in college, it absolutely matters,” Ainge said. “Winning matters, and guys who have won in college a lot of times have great habits. It’s not everything, but it matters. And obviously, (Michigan State’s) Tom Izzo is one of the best coaches in the world. So, it’s always good to have guys who have been well-coached.”
— Completely unrelated, but Celtics fans might get a kick out of Mitchell & Ness’ graphic showing its choice for the best player in NBA history to wear each number.
Ten C’s jerseys were represented.
Half belonged to five of the franchise’s greatest players: Robert Parish, Kevin Garnett, Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Dave Cowens.
The other half made up about as motley a crew as you could imagine: Sam Cassell, Shaquille O’Neal, Scot Pollard, Chris Johnson and Antoine Walker, from ‘Toine’s 24-game foray into wearing No. 88.
(@NBCSN) June 01, 2015
Thumbnail photo via Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports Images