Ryan Anderson is a poor man’s Kevin Love.
You’ll read or hear that comparison thrown around, and it’s certainly apt. Anderson shares a few similarities with Love. They’re stretch fours. Both players hoard offensive rebounds while spreading the floor and lighting it up behind the three-point line. And while Anderson and Love aren’t liabilities on defense, they’re not lockdown defenders either.
That, of course, is where the comparison ends. Love is a better rebounder and the better player (he’s also emerged as the best power forward in the NBA and an MVP candidate), mainly because he’s able to create his own shot, which opens up so many avenues for him on offense. For the season, Love is assisted on 58 percent of his made field goals — league average is 60.4 percent overall and 69 percent for power forwards.
Anderson, on the other hand, is assisted on 75.7 percent of his made field goals, which is a much higher percentage compared to Love. And that jives with Anderson’s scouting report offensively, which is that he doesn’t create his own shot that much. This season, Anderson generates his offense primarily in three play types according to MySynergySports: spot-up (36.6 percent of the time), offensive rebound (16.5 percent), and pick-and-roll man (13.6 percent).
Via offensive rebounds, Anderson averages 1.17 points per possession, which is the highest point total among those three categories.
So although Anderson isn’t the shot creator that Love is, at least not yet, he’s able to circumvent that issue a little bit by hitting the offensive glass and getting easy baskets for himself. That is, when he’s not spotting up on the perimeter or engaging in pick-and-rolls.
On Monday, the Philadelphia 76ers found out first-hand how potent Anderson is on offensive rebound putbacks. For the game, Anderson had eight offensive rebounds (compared to four for the Sixers) and on five of them, he converted them into 10 second-chance points for the Orlando Magic.
A common question that’s asked about Anderson is how is he one of the best offensive rebounders in the league while also attempting the most three-pointers per game out of anyone?
The answer lies within the pictures.
Late in the first quarter, Earl Clark finds himself with the basketball after Jameer Nelson passed it to him in a 1/4 pick-and-roll. The shot clock is winding down, which is forcing Clark to put up a shot of some sort. He decides to go at Elton Brand and attack the basket.
While all of this is happening, Anderson has come from the left wing into the paint to put himself in a position for an offensive rebound. Notice that Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala are standing around, while Anderson has maneuvered his way into the heart of Philadelphia’s defense with no resistance.
Eventually, after Clark misses on his initial foray at the rim, Anderson tips in the shot. It only took a few seconds for Anderson to get from the perimeter into the paint for an offensive rebound putback.
This time around, Anderson displays the fundamental way of boxing out another player in order to secure an offensive rebound. Clark has the ball at the top of the free-throw line, with Spencer Hawes sagging off of him and daring him to shoot a jumpshot. This time around, Clark doesn’t take the bait and settle for the jumper (something that he normally does). Instead, he dribble penetrates into the lane and tries to make a contested layup.
Again, notice Anderson off the ball. The moment that Clark goes up for a layup, Anderson is boxing out Young and putting himself in prime position to get the offensive rebound in case Clark misses. A split-second later, Clark indeed misses the layup. As such, Anderson grabs the offensive rebound and makes the putback layup.
Although Anderson isn’t the most athletic player in the NBA, his ability to position himself to box out or shield another player while simultaneously playing the angles and anticipating where a shot is going to come off the rim, explains very much his offensive rebounding ability.