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Savage: Blood, Sweat and Tears

By Dan Savage
July 30, 2010

ORLANDO – This offseason has been all about blood, sweat and tears for Ryan Anderson.


The Magic forward, who’s about to enter into his third NBA season, recently emerged from the RDV Sportsplex training room with blood dripping down his brow. He’d been intensely working out all day and finally fatigue caught up with him. During an early afternoon lifting session, he banged a weight off the top of his nose, splitting the lower part of his brow.

While that incident might force some players to call it quits, Anderson paid it no mind and ventured off to his third workout session of the day, boxing at a local gym.

After all, it’s become habitual this offseason for Anderson to take part in a vigorous three-a-day training routine that features lifting, shooting and various cardio/core workouts.

“I’m really trying to work to get stronger and get faster,” he explained. “Next year is going to be a big year for everybody, so I just want to be as ready as possible coming in.”

The 22 year old has a lot he wants to accomplish before the start of Orlando’s 2010-11 campaign, including physically developing his body to help him battle with some of the stronger players at his position.

It’s a valuable lesson he learned from two of his teammates, J.J. Redick and Marcin Gortat.

Anderson observed the increase in performance the two players experienced over the course of their careers after dedicating their summers to training. He’s hoping that by engaging in a similar routine that he’ll witness similar results.

“In regards to J.J., I definitely want to model his work ethic,” Anderson said. “And Marcin, he didn’t play at all and then all of a sudden he has a great year and gets a big contract. It’s because he worked so hard and got so much stronger during the summer time.”

While the Magic’s young talent still has two more months to continue to develop, it’s visibly evident that he’s already improved his physique.

“His body has changed dramatically since the end of last season,” said Strength-and-Conditioning Coach Joe Rogowski. “With two more months to go, we’re really optimistic with where he will be physically.”

Orlando expects that Anderson’s development in the weight room will lead to more than just a better physique. They believe he’ll gain a surge in confidence as well.

“If he improves his body, it will help his confidence,” President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith explained. “And as he plays with more confidence the coach will have more confidence in him and put him on the floor a little bit more. As a young guy, he’s just scratching the surface of what I think he’s going to be.”

Although he began last season playing at an extremely high level, Anderson’s confidence and performance wavered slightly after seeing decreased minutes following the return of then reigning All-Star forward Rashard Lewis.

During the six contests he started during Lewis’ absence, Anderson shot 46.4 percent from the field and 43.6 percent from downtown, while posting 15 points per game. He shot just 42.9 percent from the floor and 35.5 percent from three-point range, while scoring seven points per contest in an ever-changing reserve role the rest of the way.

However, it’s not in Anderson’s nature to complain about consistency in minutes. Instead, he’s focused on working hard this offseason, so that way he’ll be able to contribute regardless of his role.

“With this team, because we have so much talent, because we’re so good and have so much depth and because I’m playing behind Rashard Lewis I know (it’s going to be tough),” Anderson said. “So I’m just going to go in and fight for as many minutes as I can possibly play, because I feel like I can bring a lot to the team.”

Anderson is now an even more valuable asset to the Magic on the court as he heads into his second year in Stan Van Gundy’s system. He admits it took him some time to adjust not only to the Head Coach’s style and personality, but his defensive game plans as well.

“It’s different playing complete team defense,” Anderson said. “On most teams when you are playing defense you don’t have a guy like Dwight in the middle where you can rely a lot on him to help you. Our rotations are really surrounded around Dwight and that was a little bit to adjust to.”

But in his second year with Orlando, he expects that to change.

“This year, it’s going to be a lot easier and it’s going to click a lot faster,” he explained. “As you go on and as you play more, the game starts to slow down and I think that’s what’s going to happen.”

The Magic’s President of Basketball Operations wholeheartedly agrees.

“He’s capable of doing more,” Smith said. “We expect a big jump from him.”

With the dedication Anderson has displayed this offseason, they should expect nothing less.