With a poor opening 94 seconds against the Utah Jazz more than two weeks ago, Orlando Magic forward Ryan Anderson fell out of coach Stan Van Gundy's playing rotation, and has appeared in just two of Orlando's seven games since then.
What did Anderson do wrong in that game? He turned the ball over twice on the wing, with ace Jazz defender Andrei Kirilenko applying pressure on both occasions. And between the two turnovers, he allowed Utah forward Paul Millsap to sink an easy jumper over him. In the post-game press conference that night, Van Gundy said he did not like Anderson's "approach."
Wednesday night, following the Magic's 104-95 victory over the Miami Heat, I briefly caught up with Van Gundy and asked him to specify what he meant by the word "approach" as it pertained to Anderson's performance against Utah. He politely declined, in so many words.
"You know what? That happened a long time ago," Van Gundy said, making his way off the podium in the Amway Center Interview Room. "And I don't want to keep piling it on him. He's trying to deal with getting ready to play the next time."
Anderson had already been on thin ice with Van Gundy, so to speak, prior to the Jazz game. Van Gundy pulled him permanently in the first quarter against the New Jersey Nets five days earlier, then benched him for the entirety of Orlando's win against the Charlotte Bobcats one day after the Nets game. From rotation player to situational starter to the end of the bench. Ryan Anderson's 2010/11 season, folks.
Two weeks ago, when it became clear that he'd be relegated to mop-up minutes for the foreseeable future, Anderson expressed his displeasure. Via Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel:
"It’s a tough situation. I’m not going to lie to you and say that I’m happy," Anderson said. "It’s something that we’re trying to become the best team we can, and we have to get some consistency for guys."
On a per-minute basis, Anderson ranks second on the team in scoring and third in rebounding, yet the team has performed poorly with him on the floor so far this season. With Brandon Bass providing fairly consistent productivity at backup power forward, it seems likely that we won't see Anderson back in the rotation anytime soon.