The [Orlando] Magic‘s power-forward position, which has leaned toward the unconventional, is currently being manned by two young players with contrasting styles who weren’t certain about their futures in Orlando.
It took a trade to convince Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson that they had a place.
And maybe the surprising thing for both Bass and Anderson was that it wound up being veteran Rashard Lewis — not either of them — who was dealt.
The Magic sent Lewis to the Washington Wizards for guard Gilbert Arenas in a stunning blockbuster.
The transaction meant that Bass, 25, was assured of starting at power forward as Lewis’ replacement. Anderson, 22, then inherited minutes as Bass’ back-up — or even playing alongside Bass at times.
They have blossomed in their new roles since the deal after finally earning Van Gundy’s trust. [...]
Neither Bass nor Anderson could have imagined bigger roles or consistent minutes before the season started.
Bass was so frustrated over his lack of playing time last season that his agent, Tony Dutt, had openly talked about asking the Magic for a trade.
Like Anderson, Bass was told he had a chance to become a factor if he improved his defense and rebounding, especially with [Stan] Van Gundy envisioning Lewis playing more at small forward.
When general manager Otis Smith pulled the trigger — finally — and traded Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas, almost all of the attention surrounded the two players involved in the deal. And that’s understandable, given that Arenas and Lewis are two high-profile NBA players for different reasons, to say the least. But there were other individuals that were impacted by the swap.
Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson.
One of the main reasons that Smith acquired Arenas at the cost of Lewis was not only because the Magic needed a playmaker on the perimeter, but also because it became harder justifying not playing Bass and Anderson. When Lewis was around, Orlando had a logjam at power forward and unfortunately for Bass and Anderson, one of them was relegated to sitting on the bench.
This season, as Lewis continued to struggle offensively, it was increasingly clear that it made little sense for the Magic to sit one of their most productive players on the bench and hope he snapped out of his funk on offense. As tough of a decision as it was, given the laundry list of positive things that Lewis did for Orlando, there’s no question that Smith made the right choice.
There are a number of reasons why the Magic have been able to right the ship and currently enjoy a five-game winning streak.
Jettisoning Lewis and relying more on Bass and Anderson is a big reason.