In his second full season with the Orlando Magic, Ryan Anderson really improved his play and became a valuable option off of the bench for head coach Stan Van Gundy. With his minutes up and shot attempts increased, Anderson not only put up better numbers, but he was able to do so much more efficiently.
Anderson's True Shooting Percentage (TS%) jumped from 57.4 percent two years ago to 59.2 percent last year. In addition, Anderson's accuracy from the three-point line jumped from 37.0 percent in 2009-10 to 39.4 percent last season. All of this led to more than a two-fold increase in Anderson's WARP, which went 4.0 two years ago to 8.5 this past season. The reason for this increase in production? The Magic were able to figure out what he did well and go to it time after time.
What He Did Well
Two years ago, a lot of what Anderson did involved shooting the basketball. Either he was spotting up, something he did 36.3 percent of the time, or he was the roll man in the pick-and-roll, something he did 13.6 percent of the time, as he usually popped out to take the jumper when he received the pass. The problem with this was that Anderson wasn't particularly effective as the roll man in the pick-and-roll, even when he was popping out. Two years ago, Anderson posted a PPP of .923 as the roll man, putting him in the bottom 35 percent of all NBA players:
In the pick-and-pop, Anderson really struggled to get his feet set. Catching on the move was something that he wasn't comfortable doing, and the numbers showed that.
So how did Orlando adjust? They stopped involving him in the pick-and-roll. This past season, Anderson was involved in the pick-and-roll just 10.6 percent of the time. Instead, they focused on getting Anderson the basketball on the outside, allowing him to spot up even more. The percentage of Anderson's possessions that involved him spotting up jumped all the way to 43.4 percent of the time. With the ability to get his feet set, something that spotting him up allows, Anderson is a very good shooter and he proved that by posting a PPP of 1.148, top 12 percent among all NBA players, on an eFG% of 57.4:
Playing on the outside, reading his teammates dribble penetration and the defense's help, Anderson is able to put himself in spots where he can make the catch and easily go up with the shot. A terrific adjustment that the Magic made was that they still used the pick-and-roll, but they involved the second big in the game, but left Anderson out of it, allowing him to play off of the defense's help and spot up.
Before we can ask if Anderson can take the next step, we have to figure out what the next step is. Right now, Anderson is a great shooter off of the bench, one that fits into Orlando's system perfectly. However, for him to take the next step and become even more of a threat, one that can translate to other systems and styles, he needs to be more than a shooter who spots up on the outside. He needs to be able to be an effective shooter in the pick-and-pop. David West has made a career out of being a pick-and-pop threat, and when you consider Anderson's height and shooting ability, he can be a great weapon there too if he can resolve the whole "getting his feet set" issue. One adjustment the Magic can make is waiting a little longer before getting Anderson the ball in the pick-and-pop. Sure, that might mean his shots might be a bit more contested, but at his height, that isn't much of an issue anyway.
Sebastian Pruiti is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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