No. 3: Ryan Anderson
Appropriately on Pelicans.com’s training-camp countdown, the No. 3 slot goes to one of the NBA’s most prolific three-point shooters. New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson established a career high last season by draining 213 shots from beyond the three-point arc, breaking his previous single-season best of 166 (which led the NBA in shortened 2011-12).
Anderson would’ve repeated as the NBA’s most frequent three-point shooter were it not for the historic season of Golden State point guard Stephen Curry. Anderson and Curry were locked in a close race for much of 2012-13 for the top spot in trifectas, before Curry pulled away in the second half of the season.
The Warriors’ breakthrough star finished with 272 makes, the most by any player in NBA history. Anderson’s 213 successful treys were still the 21st-most ever since the league adopted the three-point arc in 1979-80.
The 6-foot-10, 240-pound sixth man’s perimeter exploits were even more impressive when you consider that he was often the primary focus of opposing defenses. Anderson should find considerably more open space in 2013-14, given the Pelicans’ addition of offensive weapons such as Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. No longer will opponents be able to clamp down on the 25-year-old at the three-point arc or deny him from firing wide-open looks from long distance.
“The ability that we have to attack the rim now, with our scoring, is huge,” Anderson said during his July trip to USA Basketball’s minicamp in Las Vegas. “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.”
Anderson shot exactly 39.3 percent from three-point range in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, while dipping slightly – by his standards – to 38.2 in his first New Orleans season. With upgraded talent surrounding him, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Anderson establishes another career best in the inaugural Pelicans campaign.