As the Celtics try to make the move to the wide-open shooting game, like the Warriors, the one thing they need to add is a true stretch-four, not an overweight guy shooting ill-advised threes. Unrestricted free agent power forward Ryan Anderson could fill that role for the Celtics. Anderson will demand a minimum of $12 million per year, but he won't demand a max deal and he is a player that could really help Boston if they add the right guys for him to play with.
Anderson, 28, is one of the more underrated players in the NBA, and that trend started back in his high school days. Anderson attended Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, California. In 2005, Anderson led Oak Ridge to the California D-II State Championship, beating decorated Mater Dei High School at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California. An interesting side note about the 2005 tournament- Anderson and Oak Ridge were almost upset in the first round by John H. Pitman High School, who was led by current 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick did everything he could to help his team win, scoring 34 points, but Anderson and his 50 were too much to overcome on their way to winning the state title. Scout listed Anderson as the No. 22 power forward and No. 98 overall player nationally.
Anderson had his fair share of suitors, being recruited by California, Arizona State, Oregon State, Pacific, San Diego State, Southern Cal, and Gonzaga. Ultimately Anderson chose Cal, and it turned out to be a great decision. There would be no red-shirting or slowly easing him into the rotation, he was thrown in right away and expected to produce. He lived up to expectations, starting 33 games while averaging 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in just over 33 minutes per game. Anderson shot 48% from the field overall, and he was 38% from three. He didn't have the best numbers when it came to assists, blocks, and steals, but his coaches gave him two jobs- hit shots and get rebounds, and he did just that.
His sophomore year was more of the same, starting 33 games once again while averaging 21.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and he averaged just under 33 minutes per game. His scoring, rebounding, and passing all improved as a sophomore and Anderson proved he was one of the most consistent players in the PAC-12. Anderson averaged more points per game than O.J. Mayo (USC), Kevin Love (UCLA), Russell Westbrook (UCLA), and both of the Lopez twins at Stanford (Robin, Brook). Anderson decided to strike while the iron was hot and declared for the 2008 NBA Draft. Two more years probably would have helped him improve, but Anderson's self awareness of what he brings to a team convinced him to leave early.
NBA scouts liked what they saw in Anderson's game, and the New Jersey Nets took him with the 21st pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. As a rookie, Anderson appeared in 66 games, starting 30 of them. He averaged 7.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.3 blocks in just under 20 minutes per game. He shot 39% from the field overall and 37% from three. It was obvious he could play and succeed in the NBA, but his career as a Net would be short-lived as he was traded with Vince Carter to the Orlando Magic for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee in a very one-sided trade. The trade would be the best thing to happen to Anderson in his short professional career.
Anderson played in 63 games, starting six, in his second season, his first with the Magic. Oddly enough, he scored exactly 487 points, but his average was a little higher because of the three missed games. His final stat line- 7.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, and his shooting percentage jumped to 44%, and he once again shot 37% from three. His minutes per game dropped to 14.5, which explains the drop in overall rebounding totals. In 2010-11, Anderson started to get more minutes and the production, as it always has with Anderson, was impressive. In just over 22 minutes per game, he averaged 10.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and he shot 43% from the field, 39% from three. Anderson doesn't get a lot of assists, steals, or blocks, but he can score, rebound, and he doesn't turn the ball over often, only averaging one turnover per game for his entire career.
The 2011-12 season put Anderson on the map, averaging 16.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 0.9 assists in just over 32 minutes per game. After the 2012 season, Dwight Howard was traded to the Lakers, and Ryan Anderson jumped off the sinking ship in Orlando, joining the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans as an unrestricted free agent. In four seasons in New Orleans, Anderson has appeared in 230 games, starting 48, and has averaged 16.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and he shot 41% overall, 37% from three while averaging just over 30 minutes per game.
The one negative with Anderson is injuries; he averaged just 57.5 games per season in New Orleans, and averages 60.5 games per year for his career. When a player is pretty much guaranteed to miss a quarter of the season, it hurts his overall value. In a way, that may help the Celtics to get him at a decent price, but if they do get him, they need to find a way to keep him on the floor as much as possible. Anderson would help the Celtics in the two areas they need the most help- shooting and rebounding, so in a way, he's the most valuable free agent on the market for Boston to target.
High School Statistics Provided by ryan33anderson.com
College Statistics Provided by Sports-Reference.com/College Basketball/Ryan Anderson
NBA Statistics Provided by Basketball-Reference.com/Ryan Anderson
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