Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Orlando saga for Ryan Anderson was really a story with two parts.
When Anderson first came into the league, scouting reports on him said his quickness was a concern and he wasn’t big or physical enough. His size was a plus and he did show excellent range with his shot, but scouts and analysts alike seemingly had him destined for marginality.
The second half of the story is all about how Anderson improved his game, blew presuppositions of himself out of the water, and became one of the most productive players in Orlando franchise history. Moreover, it’s about how he adapted to the league and put himself, by all accounts, as one of the more valued players in the entire Association.
Some players come into the league and have all the tools to find their way almost immediately. Others have to change their approach, add new tools, and totally reconstruct their game to find success. For Anderson, finding success in the league was merely a matter of expanding on his tools, maximizing existing parts of his game, and making sure he did everything in his power to be where he needed to be when his (or anyone else’s) number was called.
What no scouting report could have predicted was Anderson’s drive and niche-finding ability. He worked on his shot, improved on his footwork, and, most importantly, got extremely crafty on the boards. We saw this eclipse last year in what was his most productive year yet. His PER of 21.2 and WARP of 14.0 were a career-best, firmly placing him in the “must-have” category for stretch fours in the league.
As for his three-point shooting? Anderson completed his last two seasons with the Magic shooting 39.3 percent from deep and has already started this season in New Orleans at 44.7 percent after 11 games. While he’s not torching everyone in the league by any means, Anderson finds himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the NBA, which only makes him more dangerous as a stretch four.
The best part about Ryan Anderson has less to do with his numbers and individual standing in the league, though. Rather than one outstanding statistic that tells us all we need to know about him, the fact that Anderson, in just four seasons (now entering his fifth season in the league), transformed himself from an average bench player to an excellent role player and starter (and a guy who you really want on your team), is amazing. It’s the biggest reason he ranks in the top 10 of #ORLrank.
To find your role is one thing. To fill a role that basically stems from Stan Van Gundy’s 4-out, 1-in offensive system and excel at that role is something else altogether. Anderson did that, and that is why, even if his time with Orlando was brief, he belongs in the same conversation as those tenured names we think of when we talk about great players in Magic franchise history.
Voter breakdown for Ryan Anderson
What is #ORLrank?
Magic Basketball ranks the top 10 players in Magic franchise history. #ORLrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.
You can also follow along here: @erivera7
How did we rank the players?
Five MBN writers ranked each player 1-to-10, in terms of the quality of each player.
Thanks to Daniel Myers, Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference, and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus for contributing to the project.