New Orleans Pelicans year in review: Ryan Anderson


Ryan Anderson had the best season of his career this past year, which is exactly why I don’t think the New Orleans Pelicans shouldn’t resign him.

First of all, let me say a few words on Ryan Anderson’s character.

Anderson might be the greatest human being in the entire NBA, and as been nothing but a joy to have in the New Orleans community. He is a genuinely self-less guy who cares about the people around him, and he has set a stellar example for his teammates on how to be a valuable player on and off the court.

He’s also hilarious. If Anderson left, I would seriously miss his friendly antics and the way he jokes around with everyone in the area. Specifically, I would miss his fantastic lip-syncing music videos that play on the Smoothie King Center jumbo-tron.

Now to the basketball.

Anderson had a fantastic season, probably the best of his entire career aside from some slightly lower rebounding numbers. Per 36 minutes he averaged 20.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 0.7 steals a game while shooting 46% on two pointers and 36% on threes.

Those are fantastic numbers. Anderson has truly proved that he is a capable floor spacer, as well as a legitimately dangerous go-to isolation scorer. Early in the season he unleashed his Dirk-style fadeaway and started putting up some ultra efficient 30 point games anytime he could get the shots up.

This is why I’m worried.

Usually in these “Year in Review” articles I make my decision on whether we should keep a player based on how well they played. In Anderson’s case, it’s the complete opposite. He played too well, and now I’m worried he’s going to get massively overpaid.

Anderson is an unrestricted free agent, which means he can sign with anyone he wants. He’s in his prime years in terms of peak production, and he’s a fantastic floor spacer in an era when every single NBA team wants to stack their roster with shooters.

Teams will look at Anderson and salivate over the idea of spending all their 2016 cap money on him. Early in the year numbers like 18 and 20 million were being thrown around, but I think 15-17 is more realistic given that he came back down to earth a little in the later months of the year.

In my opinion, anything over 14 million per year is simply too much for Anderson, even with the 2016 cap increase. Here are my reasons.

  • Paying Anderson a 15 million dollar contract means we will be contributing between 50-55 million dollars to the center and power forward positions. Considering we have Anthony Davis, should we really be spending some 60% of our cap on the two positions he can play? I vote we invest elsewhere.
  • His defense is terrible. Almost every benefit he gives you offensively he negates on the other end. All his +/- and definitive rating numbers suggest this.
  • He’s a black hole in terms of passing. Gentry wants to run a fast paced offense with lots of smart high IQ passers and ball movers. Anderson averages 1.1 assist a game, and his teammates basically just clear out anytime he touches the ball since they know a shot is about to go up.
  • You can find alternatives for 1/3 of the price. Not many stretch fours can score in isolation as well as Ryan Anderson (which is a skill we don’t really need on this team), but if we just need a 6’10” guy to stand in the corner and shoot well we can find a player who does that for 7-9 million per year that can probably play better defense as well.
  • We’re lacking in other areas more. If we could contribute Anderson’s 15 million to a versatile small forward who can play solid defense for instance, this team would benefit significantly more. Or we could split up that money into 2-3 solid roll players and add some much needed depth.

Again, I really love Anderson as a person. Reguardless, these are the reasons I am hesitant to aggressively pursue him this summer.

Anthony Davis is already developing his outside shot, and other stretch fours are easy to find. Personally, I think Anderson would fit best on a team where he can be a starter and a legitimate 2nd or 3rd option on offense.

If you put Ryan Anderson on the Raptors or the Bucks for instance, and let him get up 15-16 shots per game he could be one of the most consistent 20-22 point per game scorers in the league on fairly solid efficiency.

He clearly has the potential to be a 22-7-2 monster when the situation presents itself, but we cannot present him with that situation. The questions Pelicans fans need to ask is whether we have the ability to maximize Ryan Anderson’s production level on this current roster. If the answer is no, why would we pay max money for him?

If I hear the Sacramento Kings have signed Ryan Anderson to a 70 million dollar / 4 year contract this summer, I’ll be sad to see him go.

With that said, I’ll be glad we weren’t the ones who offered the deal.