By Dan Savage
January 4, 2012
There has not been a more pleasant surprise for the Orlando Magic this season than Ryan Anderson.
He’s been extremely effective from the field, shooting 48 percent from the floor. He’s been red-hot from downtown, connecting on 45.5 percent of his 3-pointers. And he’s been the leading scorer for Orlando, posting 19.7 points per game.
Yet until Wednesday night, he’d yet to receive true admiration from his head coach.
While Stan Van Gundy has been more than satisfied with the way Anderson has stroked the ball, he has made it clear that he wants more from Orlando’s starting power forward on the boards and on the defensive end of the floor.
It’s not because Anderson has played poorly in those areas. Instead, it’s that Van Gundy sees amazing potential in the 23-year-old player and does not want him to grow complacent with mediocrity on the defensive end.
“Ryan is a hell of a shooter and I just don’t want him to pigeonhole himself into being all that he is,” Van Gundy explained.
As one of the true hard workers and quality locker room guys on this Orlando squad, Anderson took his head coach’s words to heart and headed into Wednesday’s contest with a strong focus on grabbing rebounds and improved play on the defensive end.
It’s safe to say, his adjusted mindset paid off.
On a night where Magic superstar center Dwight Howard pulled in 20 rebounds, Anderson still managed to reign in 15 boards – seven on the offensive end – while also helping to limit Andray Blatche to 10 points on 5-for-12 shooting.
“Coach made it a big focus to go out and get rebounds and help Dwight out, obviously because he’s rebounding the ball like crazy right now,” said Anderson, who also scored 23 points. “Tonight, I just came out with a little more defensive focus to crash the offensive glass.”
It was the type of performance Van Gundy believes he capable of on a nightly basis.
“He can do a lot of other things,” the head coach said. “Seven offensive rebounds, that’s fantastic.”
After his performance against Washington, no other word is more appropriate.
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