Ryan Anderson Continues To Shine
Entering the season, one of the major questions concerning the Magic was if any other Magic player besides Dwight Howard could be a consistent scorer and rebounder.
Ryan Anderson has answered that question. The fourth-year power forward is scoring 16.5 points and grabbing 7.4 rebounds per game this season. And he’s doing so in a very efficient manner. He’s posting an effective field goal percentage of 55.1% and a true shooting percentage of 59.3%. He’s shooting 43.0% from beyond the arc and leads league in both three-pointers made (3.0 per game) and three-pointers attempted (6.9 per game).
Anderson’s ability to knock down the three-pointer not only opens things up for Howard on the inside, but it gets his teammates open shots when they swing the ball around the perimeter.
“I think the he helps other people, especially on the offensive end of the floor,” Van Gundy explained.
That was never more evident then it was in Wednesday’s victory over the Heat.
“Ryan was amazing,” Howard explained. “He shot the ball well, he rebounded and that’s how we need him to play.”
Anderson led the Magic with 27 points and also pulled down 11 rebounds.
“I wanted to come out with a lot of energy tonight and it’s fun playing like that,” Anderson told reporters. “We did a great job of moving the ball around and making open shots.”
The underrated aspect of Anderson’s game is his work on the glass and his career rebounding rate of 13.9% (meaning he pulls down 13.9% of available rebounds when he’s on the court) certainly backs that up.
“His offensive rebounding has been great,” Van Gundy said.
What’s most impressive is the combination of Anderson’s offensive game and his ability to rebound.
“How many guys make five three’s in a half and get six offensive rebounds in the first half?” Van Gundy asked, referring to Anderson’s performance against the Heat.”The only other guy in the league that can stretch an offensive rebound is Kevin Love.”
“He’s got some unique abilities,” Van Gundy added.
Van Gundy is especially impressed with the way Anderson has handled battling with some of the elite Four’s in the league, specifically mentioning Anderson’s last three matchups – David West, Blake Griffin and Chris Bosh – and his next matchup – Josh Smith.
However, there have been problems in Anderson’s game – he struggles on defense at time and can improve his work on the defensive glass.
“There are still things he can improve upon,” Van Gundy explained. “I think he can be an outstanding player and he’s still very young.”
Anderson’s work is paying off and it should literally pay off when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer.
“He’ll keep challenging himself to play at a higher level on a more consistent basis, then the sky’s the limit,” Van Gundy said.
A Big Win
Stan Van Gundy has become famous for telling reporters that until they give his team more than one win for a game, he’ll consider it a big game.
Players often echo those sentiments, but you could tell the Magic were quite pleased with their 102-89 win over the Southeast Division leading Miami Heat Wednesday night.
“We needed a good win,” Dwight Howard told reporters following the game.
Although the Magic have defeated the Los Angeles Lakers and are the only team to beat the Pacers in Indiana – and they’ve done it twice – they really didn’t have a marquee win until they defeated the Heat Wednesday.
Orlando looked more lively than Miami throughout most of the game and after giving up 14 fast break points in the first half, they limited the Heat to just two in the second half and used big performances from both Howard and Anderson on the glass to dominate the boards.
“We came out tonight with pretty much the same energy we had last game and we got a good win,” Howard said.
After blowing a 17-point lead in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Monday night before eventually losing in overtime, it looked like there would be another unraveling Wednesday when the Magic let the Heat cut their once 17-point lead down to one in the third quarter.
“I thought we did a good job gathering ourselves,” Stan Van Gundy said. “We held our composure and nobody seemed the least bit worried.”
“We just kept making plays,” Van Gundy added.
The coach who doesn’t believe in the “big win” could even be seen smiling as the closing seconds wound off the clock.
News & Notes
- The Magic will host the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season, the Atlanta Hawks, Friday night.
- The Hawks will be without Center Jason Collins, who has a sprained elbow and All-Star Forward/Center Al Horford, who tore his pectoral muscle and should be out for at least two more months.
- Carson Ingle and I broke down Orlando’s win over Miami.You can watch that video here .
- The All-Star reserves were announced Thursday night.
- If I had to pick the reserves, I’d go with Tyson Chandler, Chris Bosh, Andre Iguodala, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson in the East with Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Rudy Gay in the West.
(Andrew Melnick is the ESPNFlorida.com  Magic and NBA Insider, co-host of the ESPN 1080 Insiders Show and publisher of Howard the Dunk. The Insiders Show can be heard Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST on AM 1080 in Orlando and onESPNFlorida.com . You can follow Andrew on twitter here.)