Ryan Anderson's Adventures in Offensive Rebounding

The book on Orlando Magic power forward Ryan Anderson reads that he is a three-point shooter, first and foremost. Prior to Monday's game against the Utah Jazz, he had attempted 100 of his 169 total shot attempts from behind the three-point line, or 59.1%. That's a more pronounced split than last season, with the New Jersey Nets, when three-pointers accounted for 46.4% of his field goal attempts. He digs the long ball for good reason, as he's connected on 37% of his treys so far in his brief career. Looking simply at those stats, it'd be fair to conclude that he's a specialist.

But there's more to the stat sheet than the 3FG/3FGA columns. Eddy's written before about how Anderson is far from the next Pat Garrity and could have a bright future in this league, and I wondered shortly after the Magic acquired him if he might develop into a Troy Murphy-like player. The reason is rebounding, and something I've noticed looking at the nuanced Anderson highlights OPP community member leeebear has shared here, as well as in-person in the Magic's game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. Anderson is a gifted offensive rebounder, especially when it comes to grabbing his own misses. The man shows remarkable sticktoitiveness. But no matter whose mess he's cleaning up, he tends to get good results.

Before the Magic's game against the Jazz last night--again, I'm emphasizing this fact to indicate that the data are one game out of date--Anderson's snagged a modest 27 offensive boards in 22 games, or 1.2 per game. What's striking is that he's tallied an offensive rebound in only half of his appearances, which I can't explain. On the Magic, he ranks behind only Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat in offensive rebound rate; in overall rebound rate, he places behind those two as well as small forward Matt Barnes. Interesting that, in both metrics, he outperforms the more traditional power forward Brandon Bass, whose presence many pundits (whether they qualify as observers or experts is questionable, given that Anderson had moderately outperformed Bass in rebounding even prior to this season) predicted would be a boon to Orlando on the glass.

But back to my point: he scored via a putback or a drawn shooting foul 12 times. We can increase that figure to 13 if we include an assist he dished to Bass immediately after an offensive rebound on December 2nd against the New York Knicks. Moreover, 9 of his 27 offensive rebounds have been of his own misses--sticktoitiveness!--and he's converted 6 of those 9 into scoring chances for himself. Summarily, he presents two threats to opponents in offensive rebounding situations: first, that he's going to grab one; and second, that he'll put the ball right back up and in (and potentially draw a foul trying) once coming up with the board. We also know he's a solid three-point shooter who can put the ball on the floor if chased off the three-point line; I refer you to leeebear's videos for more evidence of that. His combination of volume three-point shooting and offensive rebounding skill is more-or-less unprecedented: basketball-reference.com shows that only Korleone Young showed similar prowess to Anderson in both categories in an entire season, and that was in 15 minutes over 3 games with the Detroit Pistons in the lockout-shortened 1999 campaign. I'll let you decide if I put too many endpoints in that search, and I welcome your suggestions on improving it, as it seems perhaps too reductive.

The next time Anderson checks in, try to pay attention to his work on the offensive glass, and see how he gets after it. There's a 50% chance he'll come up empty in any given game--which, again, is very strange--but there's also a chance he'll do something productive when he does track down an offensive rebound. And that skill, combined with his long-distance shooting touch and youth (he doesn't turn 22 until May) makes him a very special player. Perhaps the "certain national writer" who told SLAM that the trade that brought Anderson and eight-time All-Star Vince Carter to Orlando "will be remembered as the deal where the Nets gave up Ryan Anderson" was onto something.

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