Don’t You Forget About Me

27 03 2012

Even though there is a superstar center that gets most of the attention in Orlando, one power forward has blossomed without the media’s attention. Hopefully he has the Magic’s attention.

As the Orlando Magic defeated the Toronto Raptors Monday, 117-101, Ryan Anderson continued to do what he has done all season long: shoot, score and rebound.

Anderson finished the night with 28 points and six rebounds as he shot 9-15 from the field and 8-13 from behind the 3-point line.

To be successful as a shooter, a player must be confident in his shot, no matter how “on” he feels his shot is on any given night. (If you are a Dallas Mavericks fan and have seen Jason Terry play, you know what I’m talking about.) Anderson has become comfortable with himself as a basketball player, pulling up for all sorts of shots even if some might seem rushed or forced. His stats this season reflect this confidence.

2009-2010 14.5 2.7-6.2 1.2-3.3 .370 1.1-1.3 3.2 7.7
2010-2011 22.3 3.5-8.2 2.1-5.3 .393 1.5-1.8 5.5 10.6
2011-2012 31.4 5.3-12.2 2.8-6.9 .408 2.5-2.9 7.7 15.9

Other than his percentage statistic and just barely his field goal statistic, every number on this page has more than doubled since Anderson’s 2009-2010 season. If he made the jump from that season to this season in one year instead of two, he would easily win the Most Improved Player Award.

The 23-year-old Magic has made and attempted the most 3-pointers in the league (as has his team, too) while still ranking 23rd percentage-wise. This efficiency by itself is invaluable for any basketball team.

He has made at least five 3-pointers in a game ten times this season. Out of the 49 games he has played in, Anderson has reached double-figures in 42 of those games and reached at least 20 in 15 of those games.

Jameer Nelson has not coped well with this drama-filled season for the Magic. Ryan Anderson has flourished in it.

This Florida team runs their offense through Dwight Howard as he acts as the main source down low while everyone else provides shooting from the outside. Anderson has stepped up as Howard’s No. 1 option to kick out to and the team’s No. 2 option offensively.

Stan Van Gundy has helped propel Anderson to this high-level of play because of the system implemented on the offensive side of the court.

If Anderson was the sole 3-point bomber on another team, opponents could key in on him as a threat from deep. Since the Magic also have Jason Richardson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson and Quentin Richardson spotting up from deep when Howard has the ball, Anderson fits in while also standing out.

When July 1, 2012 arrives, General Manager Otis Smith can’t let this kid slip through his fingers. Dwight Howard won’t be leaving this summer, so the Magic don’t need to worry about him once July rolls around. The Magic did not extend Anderson’s contract as they did with Dwight Howard’s, so the former California Bear will be a restricted free agent this off-season.

Who will Ryan Anderson be playing for next season?

If Smith wants solid contributors next to Howard in an attempt to convince D12 to stay with his team, Anderson should be priority No. 1. Finding a shooter at his 6-10 build that can be as efficient as he has been all season long would not be an easy task. In fact, it would probably be an impossible task since Andrea Bargnani, Channing Frye and Dirk Nowitzki probably won’t be heading to Florida anytime soon.

During his time with the Magic, Smith has made some questionable moves. His six-year, $118 million contract that he gave Rashard Lewis should be written as a “no-no” in the ” NBA General Manager for Dummies” handbook. He might need that book since he will have the most difficult part of his job (so far) this summer.

Smith has the daunting task to put players around Superman in order to keep a second center from packing his bags and leaving Orlando. It can be overwhelming with the abundance of options to put side by side with Dwight. During this hectic process, he can’t forget about the players that have already worn the pin-striped jerseys that can help the team be successful.

Ryan Anderson is one of these players.

Dwight Howard might leave Orlando. It has become a perceivable option that many see as the most probable outcome. If this ends up being the case after the next NBA season, Smith needs Anderson on his team.

Without Howard, the identity of this Magic team will be severely shot. Who will step up and take ownership of a shattered franchise? Even if the Magic bring in another star to fill the big huge void left by Howard, he will require time to become the face of the franchise. Anderson needs to be there to shoot his 3-pointers and provide a familiar face. Solid NBA players have created 17-20 point careers based solely off their jump shot (Ray Allen, Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic and Reggie Miller to name a few recent players) and Anderson seems to be right on track to doing just this.

Dwight Howard will soon have the choice whether he wants to be on the Orlando Magic for more than the 2012-2013 NBA season. Otis Smith will soon have the choice whether to keep Ryan Anderson for more than the end of this NBA season. Unless Smith wants to make another foolish move for his franchise, he should make certain that he brings back the big man that hasn’t asked to be traded.

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