Pelicans Offseason Update: Ryan Anderson

Leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, will provide a player-by-player examination of the New Orleans Pelicans, with input from various sources. We’ll review the 2012-13 campaign of each New Orleans player who appeared in at least half of the team’s games, while also looking ahead to the inaugural 2013-14 Pelicans season. continues its offseason updates by profiling Ryan Anderson, one of the most valuable acquisitions during the summer of 2012 by any NBA team:

Ryan Anderson

Key averages: 16.2 points, 6.4 rebounds in 81 games (22 starts)

Acquired in a sign-and-trade with Orlando, the underrated Anderson was expected to provide scoring punch, rebounding prowess and experience – with five pro seasons now under his belt, he’s a relative geezer on one of the league’s youngest teams. He got more than he probably bargained for early in 2012-13, when team leading scorer Eric Gordon and No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis were sidelined by injuries. Anderson was forced to shoulder a gigantic offensive load in November, but responded with one of the best stretches of his NBA career. Between Nov. 16-26, for example, the University of California product was a ridiculous 31-for-53 (58.5 percent) from three-point range. Unfortunately, a shorthanded squad generated only one victory during that seven-game span. Anderson eventually settled primarily into a sixth-man role and was one of the NBA’s premier reserves over his 59 appearances off the bench. En route to finishing with New Orleans’ second-best scoring average, Anderson displayed more offensive versatility than in previous years, including scoring off dribble moves and converting shots around the rim on crafty reverse layups. He even excited his New Orleans teammates during the stretch run of the season with a few athletic dunks. The amiable Sacramento area native is under contract for the next three seasons and is a vital component of the franchise’s new Pelicans era.

Even though it came in a heartbreaking 111-108 overtime defeat at Phoenix, it’s impossible to not give the nod in this category to Anderson’s Nov. 23 performance against the Suns. On the evening after Thanksgiving, Anderson established career highs in points (34) and three-pointers (he went 8-for-13 from beyond the arc). At times, Anderson appeared to barely have the ball in his hands before launching a deep trey – that’s how confident he was during a scorching-hot road trip. For good measure, the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder also registered 11 rebounds, two steals and a block in Phoenix. It was the first 30-10 game of his NBA career.

“It was a learning year. It was a process – obviously we have a lot of young guys and it was kind of a rough start. We weren’t really sure the direction of where the team was going to go. But this team has been a really resilient, hard-working team. We get in the gym and really practice – I believe – harder than any other team, because we do want to get better, we do want to improve and we have a lot to learn. I truly believe that we have a really, really bright future. This year built that nucleus. I’m excited to be a part of it.” – Ryan Anderson “I talked to him in our closing meetings about the things I thought he did pretty well that nobody thought he could do. I thought he put the ball down (dribbling) well. There were games where he defended Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph better than anybody else. People forget that Ryan’s 24 (Editor’s note: His 25th birthday is May 6). He’s not even in his prime yet. He’s going to be a really good player if he continues to work at it. That’s the one thing I’ve talked to him about, that he’s got to become not just a shooter, but a total basketball player. He firmly agrees that he’s going to do some improving this summer and do some different things to enhance his game. He’s a guy who won Most Improved Player last year but is still getting better.” - Monty Williams What was the most surprising aspect of Ryan Anderson's game during the 2012-13 season?

@ConnorMullany: I like that as the season progressed he got better and better at putting the ball on the floor and getting in the paint.

@IamKimmieHo: He’s a three-point threat and can shoot in the most difficult areas. He silenced his critics that he can play without Dwight Howard.

@nsingh93: He was surprisingly good in the low-post game, very tricky.

@TroyGaulden: He can hit threes late in games with defenders all in his face.