Ryan Anderson anticipates more open shots in NOLA attack

Ryan Anderson anticipates more open shots in NOLA attack

July 26, 2013

There were times last season, particularly while some of Ryan Anderson’s teammates were sidelined by injuries, when everyone in the arena knew exactly where New Orleans was going with the ball. Anderson still managed to put up some impressive shooting numbers, but the 6-foot-10 power forward had never been so challenged in the NBA to create his own offense or take so many high-degree-of-difficulty attempts.

When Anderson pictures what playing for the 2013-14 New Orleans Pelicans will be like, the five-year NBA veteran sees a drastically different scenario. The additions of All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday (17.7 scoring average last season) and athletic wing Tyreke Evans (15.2) have given New Orleans two more ways to attack defenses. Anderson fired 557 three-point attempts in 2012-13, second-most in the league, trailing only Stephen Curry’s 600 tries. Anderson could easily launch just as many treys next season, but he believes a much bigger chunk of them will be of the wide-open variety.

“The ability that we have to attack the rim now, with our scoring, is huge,” Anderson said at USA Basketball’s minicamp. “We have so many different creative lineups we can work with, with guys who can all really score the ball. That really helps me. It takes the pressure off me a little bit. Eyes aren’t necessarily going to be on me. It won’t be a situation of having guys sticking on me, rather than helping off of Tyreke’s man or Jrue’s man. When we have guys that are aggressive like we do now, it causes (defenses to help). It causes players like me, Brian Roberts – guys who can really shoot the ball – to be open. I’m definitely excited.”

Upon his arrival in New Orleans last summer, some NBA analysts questioned whether Anderson could succeed while no longer playing with interior force Dwight Howard, his former Orlando Magic teammate. Anderson responded by averaging a career-high 16.2 points and shooting 38.2 percent from three-point range, almost exactly the same as his career rate of 38.4. During a November road trip in which both Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis were out due to injury, Anderson averaged 21.0 points (including a career-best 34 at Phoenix), while shooting a ridiculous 21-for-33 (63.6 percent) from the three-point arc. Unfortunately for New Orleans, it went just 1-3 on the trip. That was a common theme throughout 2012-13 for the University of California product, who did everything he could to keep his team competitive, but needed more firepower surrounding him. New Orleans went 9-15 last season when he scored 20-plus points.

“Obviously, we have so much young talent now,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m excited to see how we gel. I know that we will, because guys know how to play the game. Tyreke and Jrue really know how to play. They’re going to open up the floor for me so much. I might get a few open shots this year, which will be nice.”

Anderson envisions offensive possessions next season in which defenses must account for every other New Orleans player on the floor. Anderson smiles when he thinks about how that will translate to his own play.

“It’s definitely great to have some of that pressure off,” Anderson said. “I think at times it was tough (last season) to sometimes be the go-to guy when the shot clock or game clock was winding down. Naturally my game is to be that guy who spreads the offense, rather than the guy doing the (initial) work, driving to the hoop or creating. I think it will be great to have someone like Tyreke. That’s kind of his bread-and-butter. I’ll be the guy who’s waving his hands high in the air, open and ready to catch a pass.”