We Should Probably Not Ignore Ryan Anderson Anymore

Last night, the Orlando Magic laid waste to the New Orleans Hornets, 121-86, in a game only visible to the people who attended. Not even NBA.com has a highlight reel, which is fairly remarkable, as it somehow produced a highlight reel for the Magic's preseason game against the Miami Heat, which wasn't televised in Orlando or in Miami. Curious.

The real downside to not being able to see the Hornets game was completely missing Ryan Anderson's stellar performance. I noted in the game recap that Anderson led all scorers with 22 points, but I hadn't yet realized how impressively he had done so until I read this story by Brian Schmitz. He writes:

So it turns out it was Vince Carter who was the "throw-in" in the Magic's trade this summer with the New Jersey Nets.

Ryan Anderson laughed at the notion, but he stole the show on a Tuesday night in Wichita, Kan., when, actually, he and Carter carried the Magic to a 5-0 preseason record with a 121-86 trouncing of New Orleans.

Anderson scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the third quarter, including 14 straight.

14 straight points, and 22 overall? From a guy only 5 months removed from being of legal drinking age? Holy smokes, I wish I had seen that. NBA.com's play-by-play account of the game is the next-best thing to a highlight reel, and sure enough, Anderson went berserk in the third quarter. In a five-possession sequence, lasting from the 8:19 mark to the 6:07 mark, he drilled 4 three-pointers (each with a hand from Jameer Nelson) and made a layup after grabbing an offensive rebound. 14 points in just over 2 minutes, on 5 shot attempts. The Magic's lead ballooned from 69-52 to 83-57 during this time. Un-flippin'-real.

So the bad news is that just about everyone missed seeing Anderson's (potentially meaningless) coming-out party. The good news? There's a chance for him to repeat it. With Stan Van Gundy likely to sit Rashard Lewis for the remainder of the preseason in order to better prepare for life without him during his 10-game suspension, Anderson and fellow newcomer Brandon Bass will see extended minutes at power forward. And thanks to two nationally televised preseason games in the coming weeks--Monday's match against Chicago is on WGN, available in many nationwide markets, while ESPN will carry next Friday's finale against Atlanta--Magic fans should have plenty of opportunities to see the team's youngest player continue to shine in exhibition play. With any luck, it'll continue into the regular season.

For people who put stock in such things--and I'm not sure there are many of them, since it is preseason--Anderson's cumulative preseason averages are 14 points and 4.3 boards in just over 20 minutes on 45% from the field and 50% from three-point range. His effective field goal percentage is a sky-high 62.5%. He is indeed making a strong case for inclusion in Van Gundy's rotation even after Lewis returns from his suspension, and may wind up starting ahead of Bass--who's having not such a bad preseason himself, with averages of 13 points and 5.5 boards on 65.3% shooting--in Lewis' absence.

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