Season in Review 2015-16: Ryan Anderson

Pelicans.com continues its look back at the 2015-16 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:

2015-16 OVERVIEW
Over the first 4 1/2 months of the regular season, Ryan Anderson played in 66 of New Orleans’ first 68 games, surpassing his number of appearances from the previous two campaigns (just 22 in 2013-14 due to a frightening neck injury; 61 in 2014-15 due to a knee sprain). It was a welcome and well-deserved uninterrupted stint in uniform, for a player who’s dealt with more than his share of misfortune since coming to the Crescent City in ’12. Anderson’s 2015-16 season ultimately came to an end after a March 18 game vs. Portland, due to a sports hernia injury that sidelined him for the final 14 games. Prior to that ailment, Anderson’s production and statistics returned to near the level of his first two seasons in New Orleans, after he posted career lows in 2014-15 in shooting percentage (39.9) and three-point percentage (34.0).

In his 66 appearances, the forward’s performance was highlighted by a handful of the best games of his eight-year career. For example, Anderson has compiled a total of 14 games of 30-plus points as a pro, but a whopping six of those occurred in 2015-16. He registered a career-best 36 points vs. Sacramento and also reached the 30-point plateau once apiece against Charlotte, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Portland, with all but the OKC outing taking place on the Smoothie King Center floor.

The long-range bomber and scoring threat enters this summer as an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his NBA career. The last time he was available was ’12, when he was a slightly under-the-radar restricted free agent that New Orleans moved deftly to acquire and add to a core that gained then-rookie Anthony Davis.

“I’ve never been a part of free agency being an unrestricted free agent, don’t know what it’s like, don’t know what it’s going to be like, don’t know (which teams are) going to come into play at all,” Anderson said in March when he was asked about his future. “It’s something I’ll definitely approach (after the season ends and when free agency begins July 1).”

Over the four years of his contract with New Orleans, Anderson appeared in 230 of a possible 328 games (70.1 percent). When asked by reporters to describe the Pelicans’ past few seasons, injuries were a prominent part of the response.

“As a team, I’ve seen everything,” Anderson said, summarizing his four seasons. “This was another injury-prone year. That’s been tough, but it’s something you can’t control. It’s a part of the game. Unfortunately it’s another season where we’ve had to fight through that. At the end of the day, it would benefit everyone to have this whole group healthy.

“You do wonder what that could be like. Coming into this year, a lot of people had incredible hopes for us. It makes it pretty difficult when we have a lot of our top guys out.”

TOP THREE RYAN ANDERSON GAMES OF 2015-16

#3, Jan. 15: New Orleans 109, Charlotte 107
A Jrue Holiday-to-Anthony Davis alley oop made SportsCenter as the game-winning basket to beat the Hornets, but Anderson put the Pelicans in position to win. Anderson came off the bench to pile up 32 points (6/8 three-point shooting) and grab eight rebounds.

#2, Nov. 20: New Orleans 104, San Antonio 90
The Pelicans stunned the eventual 67-win Spurs on ESPN, posting what was arguably their most impressive victory of the season. Anderson deposited 30 points in 33 minutes, going 6/11 from beyond the arc. He pulled down seven rebounds.

#1, Jan. 28: New Orleans 114, Sacramento 105
Anderson set a franchise record for most points in a first half by connecting for 30 points prior to intermission. The Pelicans needed all of those on a night when Davis was sidelined by injury, along with Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon. Anderson finished the game with a career-best 36 points, to go with nine rebounds and four assists.

BEHIND THE NUMBERS
6-0: New Orleans record when Anderson made at least five three-pointers. The Pelicans were also 9-2 when he sank four-plus treys.

40.4: Anderson three-point percentage in home games. He shot 32.1 percent on the road, continuing a trend from the previous season of shooting more accurately in the Smoothie King Center.

8: Offensive rebounds for Anderson on March 11 at Memphis, the most single-game boards at that end of the floor for any New Orleans player this season.

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