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January 13, 2012

Ryan Anderson = The New Peja Stojakovic

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil Paine @ 4:44 pm

This post is meant to expound a little on a couple of tweets I made in the past day-plus:

Orlando’s leaders in % of tm shots taken while on the court? Ryan Anderson (27.5%) and Glen Davis (24.2%). Howard (19.6%) ranks 6th on team

More Ryan Anderson fun… Peja Stojakovic best year was 2004: 120 ortg/22 %poss/106 drtg/4.7 spm/182 aws+… R.A. 2012:131/21/105/7.5/229

Orlando’s Ryan Anderson is having a crazy start to the 2011-12 season. His offensive rating is 130.8, and while plenty of one-dimensional jump-shooters have crazy ORtgs in limited touches, Anderson is using 21.2% of the Magic’s possessions while on the court, and firing off a staggering 26.6% of their shots while in the game. Like most guys who take so many spot-up Js (Anderson has bombed 59% of his FGAs from deep), he needs others to create for him — hence the fact that 80% of his made shots are assisted — but this level of usage from a shooting specialist is almost unheard of.

In 2007 and 2008, J.R. Smith posted FGA%s of 25.5 and 26.8, respectively, with 59.3% and 57.9% of his FGAs coming from 3-point range. Smith was a different animal, though — he also had touches/min in the 1.0-1.1 range (Anderson is only touching the ball 0.7 times/min), and just 66% of his FGs were assisted in 2008, indicating a greater ability to create for himself. Smith was also an athletic 6-6 swingman; Anderson is a 6-10 stretch 4 whose athleticism doesn’t impress anyone. Dig deeper in the list of players with high FGA% and 3PA%, and you run into a similar issue, with gunner guards like John Starks & Eddie House showing up.

Perhaps the best comparison for Anderson, then, is another tall shooter who wasn’t especially adept at creating for himself but still launched a ton of shots with great efficiency: Peja Stojakovic.

Stojakovic’s best year by just about every metric was 2004, when he posted an ORtg of 119.9 on 22.0% of Sacramento’s possessions while on the floor. He also had a 106.0 individual DRtg, an SPM of +4.72, and a 182 AWS+ (per-minute Alternate Win Score — the best linear-weights metric — compared to the league average, where avg = 100). With Chris Webber limited to 23 games that year, Peja was the focal point of the Kings’ offense despite taking 40% of his shots from beyond the arc and needing assists on 77.1% of his field goals.

Using Mike Bibby at the point and Vlade Divac to pass out of the high post, Kings coach Rick Adelman crafted a Webber-less offense that ranked 2nd in the league thanks to Peja’s eye-popping efficiency numbers. Likewise, the Magic currently have built the league’s 2nd-best offense around the passing of Jameer Nelson & Hedo Turkoglu, and Anderson’s shooting. And most surprisingly, Dwight Howard has taken a backseat in all of this — Superman currently sits 5th on the team in %FGA, taking only 20.9% of the shots while in the game.

Peja proved that a successful offense can be built around a brilliant shooter who can’t necessarily create looks for himself (or others — Anderson is passing on a paltry 26% of his touches, even lower than Stojakovic’s 35% in ’04). But the jury is still out as to whether Anderson can keep up this level of hot shooting. He’s knocking down treys at a 43.4% clip right now, a rate even Peja was only able to match once (2008, when he hit 44.1% of his threes for New Orleans). And remember, that was a run-down 30-year-old Peja, using only 17.9% of the possessions while on the court. Also note that, while Anderson made 39.3% of his threes with a 122.1 ORtg last year, he was taking only 22.8% of Orlando’s shots while in the game. The leap from is 22.8% to 26.6% is a massive one indeed.

Still, Orlando’s scoring fortunes may depend on whether their newfound offensive centerpiece can continue to be as efficient as a prime Stojakovic. He’s posted Peja-esque numbers so far, so it’s going to be fun to see if he can live up to those expectations over an entire season.

Email Neil at Follow him on Twitter at @Neil_Paine.

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