Alan Anderson’s path to the NBA is a perfect example of how perseverance pays off.
The 6-foot-6, 220 pound guard was known as one of the best ball handlers on Coach Izzo’s teams from 2002-2005. Anderson led the Spartans to the Final Four in his senior season in 2005, averaging a team-high 13.6 points per game while adding 5.4 rebounds. He was a two-time team MVP in 2003 and 2005 and also won MSU’s John E. Benington Defensive Player Award in his freshman and senior seasons.
Anderson did not hear his name called during the 2005 NBA Draft, but was signed two months later by the Charlotte Bobcats. In his rookie season, he averaged just over five points per game in 36 appearances, while shooting a stellar 41 percent from beyond the arc. Less than a month into his sophomore campaign in the NBA, the Bobcats waived him from the team.
After he went unsigned in free agency, Anderson spent the next four months tearing up the NBA Development League (NBADL) with the Tulsa 66ers. He averaged 15.8 points per game while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and over 45 percent from long range. Anderson even earned a spot on the NBADL All-Star team before being re-signed by the Bobcats for the final two months of the season.
An unsuccessful free agency in 2007 forced Anderson to pursue a professional career overseas, where he spent the next four years playing Euroleague ball for four teams. In that span he averaged 13.7 points per game and also led his teams to five different championships. In 2010, Anderson had a brief stint with the New Mexico Thunderbirds of the NBADL, where he averaged over 21 points per game before returning to Europe.
The years of hard work in Europe and the NBADL finally paid off for Anderson in 2012. He was signed to a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors, who were impressed by his level of play and signed him for the remainder of the season. He was able to crack the starting lineup in 12 of the 17 games he appeared in, averaging nearly 10 points per game in 27 minutes of time on the floor.
Anderson’s return to the NBA was successful and he has stayed ever since. The Raptors re-signed him in July of 2012 to a one-year contract and he played in 65 games for Toronto. The former Spartan posted a solid 10.2 points per game, mostly off the bench, while shooting a phenomenal 85.7 percent from the charity stripe.
The following season, Anderson took his talents to Brooklyn, where he appeared in all but five contests and played a prominent role off the bench during their playoff run.
This past offseason, Anderson was signed to a two-year, $3 million contract with the Nets. For the first time in his career, Anderson finally has some job security, and it only took nine years, 12 teams and a couple continents to get there.