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NBA / Jan 19, 2012 / 11:00 am

Ryan Anderson’s Breakout Season Creates A Problem In Orlando

Ryan Anderson

This season started with a question about Dwight Howard‘s tenure in Orlando. Suddenly, it’s become a question about teammate Ryan Anderson‘s potential — and if that’s a blessing for GM Otis Smith or another headache.

The fourth-year forward from Cal is on everyone’s short list of most improved players in the league this year. Houston’s Kyle Lowry is in the same conversation, but Anderson has stood out in the reflected spotlight and scrutiny around Howard now.

He’s averaged 17.8 points this year, up from his previous best of 10.6 per game last year, and is far exceeding his current contract (He’s in the final year of his rookie contract, making $2.2 million this season, and he’ll probably become a restricted free agent this summer.).

When Howard struggled to eight points and 10 rebounds against the Knicks on Monday, Anderson continued his tear by going for a career-high 30, and his seven threes boosted his shooting from beyond the arc to 41 percent this season and 46 threes, the most in the league. He’s doing quantity and quality like few big men before him.

Orlando doesn’t exactly want Anderson, though; the Magic want Howard, their unquestioned cornerstone, to stick around in north Florida. The trouble lies in the gulf between Anderson’s play and his contract. Getting something equal for him in a trade (to lure Howard into staying with a revamped lineup) right now might be impossible. Another option, trying to package him with more Magic, might be a cost too high even with Howard staying, says Evan Dunlap, the managing editor at the Orlando Pinstriped Post blog.

“The Magic can’t get equal value for him straight-up,” he wrote to Dime. “They’d need to package him with at least one more contract — perhaps Jameer Nelson‘s, at a little less than $8 million? — in order to get an impact player making big bucks. But if they include Nelson with Anderson, for example, they’re losing two starters.”

It’s a bet either way the Magic play it. If the Magic feel like they’ve lost Howard, who do they build around? Anderson isn’t the de facto rebuild key he’s playing like right now, Dunlap cautioned. Maybe it’s a case of Rashard Lewis 2.0 buyer’s remorse: Like Anderson, Lewis was 6-10 and silky from deep, and blossomed in his third and fourth years, but didn’t have a defensive pedigree. In his fourth season in Seattle, he averaged 16.8 points per game and shot 39 percent from three, but signed with Orlando after nine years and never expanded his game beyond one dimension. There are some similar concerns with Anderson.

“I don’t know that he’d be the anchor of a rebuilding effort either; he’s incredibly talented, but he’s not going to average 18.3 points per game without a paint presence like Howard to draw attention away from him on the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop,” Dunlap wrote. “But he’d still be important to a rebuilding Magic team, probably as a No. 2 offensive option.”

Now, if the long-speculated Bynum-for-Howard deal is ever completed, Anderson would still see the dividends of playing with a top-five post. Anderson should be savoring the moment as it is, though. Whatever Smith decides about Howard’s future will affect Anderson’s, too.

How should Orlando approach Ryan Anderson’s future?

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  • JDish

    SnAp

    Its harder than I thought to make a decision on Dwight Howard. I always thought that it was as simple as, “Ahh just trade Dwight already and let Ryan Anderson and the other Magic players develop…”. But its way more complex than I expected. Its true, Ryan Anderson is scoring much more but what if he is totally dependant on someone like D. Howard in the middle(or another star player, a.k.a. The Man) to take most of the pressure away from Anderson so he can continue his production.
    Don’t get me wrong, as a fan what I truly wish is for Dwight Howard to stick around and let the Magic (HOPEFULLY) make some Smart moves and get him another star teammate, a wing player that can immidiately fill it up, or a true up grade from Jameer Nelson at the point.

    Here I am hoping for a better tomorrow for the Magic.

  • mo.B.bad

    Anderson plays with more hustle and drive than ‘Shard ever did. probably because he doesn’t have a hideously bloated contract.

    anyway, I think he’s an excellent complimentary piece to Dwight. he’s a superb Stretch 4 and really takes the scoring burden off Dwight, and defensively he’s improving too.

    if the Magic want to trade pieces to improve, they should trade Jameer and J-Rich. Anderson has to stay, unless the person coming in can score and be a playmaker too (coz Jameer ain’t up to the task).

  • First & Foremost

    If Ryan wants to become a restricted free agent this year, Orlando matches whatever offer he is given. A stretch 4 who hits the glass occassionally, should be worth $6M/yr. If he gets a chance to show his skills in the pivot, word on the street was he played C in college, then he could garner at a MAX of 8M/yr.

    Or since Dwight wants to have more influence on GM decisions, fine, let Dwight make the call.

  • mo.B.bad

    JDish

    an upgrade at the Point is the one. a scoring wing, even one who can create his own shot, would be nice but not crucial. Dwight (and the team as a whole) need a proper PG running the show. someone who can get it down low with more than 12 seconds left on the shotclock, who can be trusted to stay healthy and in rhythm, and who can actually guard opposing PG’s.

  • http://www.psychodrama.com Chicagorilla

    Anderson can shoot it no doubt, but he’s not much of a defender, can’t bang in the post, and not much of a rebounder. Whoever over pays for him is a f^cktard and should be fired.

    With that said, i’d take him on the Bulls lol. It would help open up lanes for DRose while also pulling their big man away from the basket.

  • trollne1

    Only reason this guy is averaging 18 ppg is because he’s hoisting a ridiculous 8 3pt shots a game and makes about 40% of them. And that’s on playing 30 mins per game. He won’t get the same good looks without a dominant post presence like Dwight Howard. At least Rashard had a bit of a midrange game during his peak years. But Ryan Anderson is still young so let’s see if he can develop a midrange game as well.

  • Trev

    Thanks Dmac!!!! lol

  • catdaddywhack

    dude is also an underrated offensive rebounder…

  • WinDelRoj

    The play Orlando ran last night seemed that it was obviously going for Ryan Anderson. Breaking the huddle the camera turned to Dwight and it looked like he was either mocking the play but just kept saying “Wow”. He is walking this summer and the Magic aint bringing him back. Better trade him

  • mo.B.bad

    WinDelRoj

    I know, right? he must have been so disgusted considering we were only in the game due to him being an absolute beast on the Offensive Boards.

    without a True PG and without 4th Quarter Hedo, we really struggled to create good shooting opportunities and just threw up bad shots which often missed, only for Dwight to grab the board and find someone else, or nail a putback.

    then at the end we run a play for Anderson?

  • jimmhummv

    Man I say leave the team alone. The magic have good record so far. I think melo is an example of messing with a good thing. The nuggets where consistently good. The knicks really aren’t with him and amare. A team wins. Super teams are fun but a winning team is what really matters

  • WinDelRoj

    Man am I glad Melo is gone (from Denver). Maybe dont have the “Go-To” but the quality of basketball is better. GM’s who dont get overly aggressive or a sky’s falling mentality are better than the guys absolutely have to make a deal.

  • First & Foremost

    How do you draw up a play to create an offensive rebound? Not like Dwight gets great positioning without clubbing people with his arms. How do you draw up a play, for a player that is limited to running hooks? If Dwight could hit a fadeaway, then maybe you drop it in the post and let him turn over his right shoulder for a short jumper. The problem is he can’t hit that, let alone the game being on the line and having him attempt that.

    You draw up a play for your shooters and then, if all goes as planned, Dwight gets the uncontested putback. I have yet to hear a coach, draw up a jumpshot for the sole purpose of creating an offensive rebound… to win the game.

  • catdaddywhack

    maybe not a jumpshot but with an intentionally missed freethrow attempt… down by 3 or 4 (depending on the situation, of course), a player is fouled and goes to the line to shoot 2 (or 3) fts with around 5 secs or less left in the game….? lol

    …didn’t they used to do this during the pre-3 point line era?

  • QQ

    That’s kind of a problem, but seeing that Orlando is getting wins, Dwight’s ‘I Want Out’ requests have certainly quiet down. Imagine of we are 4-10 right now? DAMN.

    Still, OF COURSE, it’s Dwight. Ryan’s playing out of his mind right now, but OF COURSE, trade/make a deal with anyone BUT Dwight.

  • http://brokejumper.com/ Brokejumper

    Just like Nick Anderson and Shaq back in the day.