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Pelicans' Ryan Anderson Has Quietly Become More Than Just a Shooter

this is a discussion within the Pelicans Community Forum; When the three-point line was first introduced at the professional level back in 1967, ABA commissioner George Mikan told The Associated Press that it would “give the smallest player a chance to score and open up the defense to make ...

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Old 12-21-2014, 10:30 PM   #1
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Pelicans' Ryan Anderson Has Quietly Become More Than Just a Shooter

When the three-point line was first introduced at the professional level back in 1967, ABA commissioner George Mikan toldThe Associated Press that it would “give the smallest player a chance to score and open up the defense to make the game more enjoyable for the fans.”

Fast-forward to the modern NBA, and long-range bombers of all shapes and sizes are precious parts of nearly every team. More three-point shots are being launched than ever before, with a new record for attempts being set in each of the past three years.

Ryan Anderson has been at the heart of this beyond-the-arc movement since he entered the league in 2008-09. The 6’10” forward struggled to find a real role through his first few years but broke out with the Orlando Magic in 2011-12, averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 boards on 43.9 percent shooting. He was recognized as the league's Most Improved Player.

The next year, Anderson would up in New Orleans through a sign-and-trade to play with rookie Anthony Davis. In his first two years with the Pelicans, Anderson averaged 16.9 points and grabbed 6.4 boards, but only played 22 games in 2013-14 thanks to a neck injury.

Anderson’s game has continued to evolve from the time he stepped on an NBA court. Now healthier than ever, he can no longer be labeled as merely a "shooter"—he's graduated from that term.

Seven years into his pro career, Anderson has become a scorer.

Anderson’s Role in New Orleans

The Pelicans have provided Anderson with the golden opportunity of playing with one of the best players in the world.

Davis has been the shining star in New Orleans, destroying opponents and filling up stat sheets like few others in the Association. And Anderson, to his credit, has been more of a co-star than a sidekick.

When Davis sits, Anderson becomes the guy on offense. The ‘Cans frequently run their sets through him on the high or low post with the Brow on the bench.

According to NBA.com’s Tracking Function, 5.9 of Anderson’s 13.3 field-goal attempts have come in catch-and-shoot situations, ninth most in the league.

What that means is that A) he hasn’t lost his affinity for launching and B) he’s developed the ability to get his own shot.

When the Pelicans played the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 10, Mark Jackson respectfully likened Anderson to a “poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki” as he watched the players battle on both ends.

Anderson is far from Hakeem Olajuwon. His post game is not the sort that kids will emulate growing up, but it works. It’s herky-jerky and quirky, but it works.

He alluded to this before participating in the 2012 Three-Point Contest, via WFTV.com:

Growing up, no one ever really taught me how to play. I just played. I was never coached by anyone that ever said ‘You’re strictly gonna be down low in the post, and we gotta get you to be fundamental.’ It was always somebody who gave me free reign to play how I knew how to play and how I wanted to play, and it was a knack that I had to stretch the floor and shoot the ball. And that’s what made me different.

The Cal graduate is shooting 62.5 percent in the paint with just 40 percent of his buckets coming off an assist. If he’s not flushing a dunk or converting an easy lay-in, Anderson is posting up and creating a look for himself.

With no other second-unit player scoring more than eight points per game, Anderson’s 15.6 has almost single-handedly carried one the NBA’s thinnest benches. On Nov. 18, he set the franchise record for off-the-bench points, breaking the mark previously held by Jannero Pargo.

Anderson is a big-time player in a big body. But he hasn’t forgotten his roots.

Still a Sniper

Anderson has yet to travel down Kanye West’s path of forgetting who you are. Yes, his game has evolved—but he hasn’t abandoned his greatest asset.

A career 38.2 percent shooter from downtown, Anderson is hitting 34.3 percent of his threes this year. He’s had games where he’s missed four or five triples, but the 240-pound forward can still stroke it.

Just ask the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In two games against the Cavs this year, Anderson swished 16 of his 26 three-point attempts and racked up 62 points. After dropping the first contest 118-111 in early November, the Pelicans came away with a 119-114 victory on Dec. 12.

“Every time he lets it go we think it's going in,” coach Monty Williams said of Anderson after the win, per Nakia Hogan of NOLA.com. “He's not afraid if the big shot. He's not afraid of taking the next shot.”

Williams went on to talk more about the second-best forward on his team, who carried the Pels to a victory after Davis went down with a chest injury in the opening quarter:
There were a few shots that had he not been rolling, I probably would have had a conversation or two with him on the bench. But he's an X-factor for us, a bit [of] a game changer. So many defenses are executed to take him out. But he was still able to knock down shots. And I thought he showed great toughness on defense.

Being that he’s one of New Orleans’ best players and his name isn’t Anthony “He Who Shall Not Be Traded” Davis, rumors are constantly swirling around Anderson, whose contract is up after next season.

But the Pelicans would be making a huge mistake in dealing him. Despite playing seven seasons in the league, Anderson is still more than three years away from turning 30.

And having seen how immensely his game has evolved since his rookie year, locking him up long-term would be one of the best decisions New Orleans could make for its future.

All stats are accurate courtesy of Basketball-Reference and Stats.NBA.com as of Dec. 21.

Read more New Orleans Pelicans news on BleacherReport.com

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