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Sky is the limit for Ryan Anderson

2012 February 9
by Brian Serra

Remember the Vince Carter trade with New Jersey in June 2009? Well, from this day forward that trade should never again be addressed as the Carter trade. It was the Ryan Anderson trade.

“Vince [Carter] gives us a veteran, go-to scoring presence, especially at the end of games,” Magic general manager Otis Smith said in a statement. “Our goal remains the same — to win a championship. Any time you can add an All-Star to help you reach your goals, you have to do it. Vince has been a bonafide scorer in this league for 11 seasons and we are excited to add both him and Ryan [Anderson] to our team.”

65 words into Otis Smith’s quote on the trade, and in his closing, he mentions Ryan Anderson. He was a throw in.

After coming off the bench the last two seasons behind Rashard Lewis and Brandon Bass, Ryan has grabbed a hold of the starting PF position and is showing no signs of relinquishing it. As his minutes have improved over the course of the last 3 seasons (14, to 22, to 30mpg), so has his production. Once the Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas trade went down last season, the depth chart opened up enough for Ryan to log minutes both at PF and C backing up Dwight Howard.

In a 24 game stretch immediately following the trades, Ryan averaged 15 points per game and 7 rebounds per game despite starting in just 5 of those games. While his numbers tapered off as the season concluded, it was clear to most that Ryan deserved more playing time. Even Stan Van Gundy realized that he made a mistake in not playing Ryan more, something he admitted for the first time publicly last night:

“I know one mistake that I thought was that I did not play [Anderson] enough last year. I think that he helps other people, especially on the offensive end of the floor.”

Where he helps other people comes in terms of floor spacing (see 08-09 Lewis, Rashard) and in terms of offensive rebounding. While Stan admits that he would like to see Ryan’s defensive rebounding improve, he’s definitely pleased with his glass work on the offensive end.

Stan Van Gundy on Ryan Anderson from Feb 8, 2012, “How many guys make five three’s in a half and get six offensive rebounds in the same half? He’s exceptional. The only other guy in the league that can stretch an offensive rebound is Kevin Love. He’s [Ryan] got some unique abilities.”

The challenge for Ryan will continue to come on the defensive end, something he is well aware of and openly admits on a regular basis. It’s not easy though for a first year starter to face the competition he has faced off against recently- in the last 3 games alone, he has had to battle against David West, Blake Griffin and Chris Bosh.

Ryan talks openly about his desire to find a routine and stick to it.  At just 23 years old, his immediate challenge is to just continue to play at the level he has through the first third of this season.  If he can sustain that play then permanently ingrain an unmatched intensity level, then watch out.

More from Stan, “I think he can be an outstanding player and he’s still very young. And if he’ll keep challenging himself to play at a higher level on a more consistent basis, then the sky’s the limit.”

Ryan Anderson is keenly aware of where he has been, where he is and where he needs to go. If the sky is truly the limit, then I look forward to continue watching the rise.

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