Assessing the Orlando Magic's Failure, Part III: Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass Come Up Short in Playoffs

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Among the reasons the Orlando Magic didn't advance out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time in four years is the lack of productivity they received from Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass, their power forwards, in that first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. Though near every rotation player underachieved, and some to worse degrees than Anderson and Bass, the extent to which the Hawks dominated the position is too large to ignore.

To be clear, both players thrived in the regular season, particularly after the December trade of Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards opened more playing time for them both. Plus, the separate trade which sent Marcin Gortat to the Phoenix Suns enabled them to log minutes as Dwight Howard's backup at center as well. Anderson posted career-bests in minutes, points, rebounds, three-point percentage, and Player Efficiency Rating. Bass became a regular starter for the first time since his college days and also set career-bests in minutes, points, rebounds, and field-goal percentage.

But, for whatever reason--lack of experience? Bad matchup? A fluke?--neither did anything of note in the playoffs. Anderson shot 26.7 percent from the field--including 2-of-10 on two-pointers--while Bass shot a miserable 42.1 percent overall. Their rebounding dipped as well. Given that both players are offensively minded, it's tough to keep them on the floor when their shots won't drop. In the absence of any alternatives apart from the raw, untested Earl Clark, coach Stan Van Gundy didn't have much of a choice: he had to play his two youngsters, watching as Al Horford and Josh Smith worked them over time and again.

Again, it'd be unfair to pin the entire postseason failure solely on these two, who played quite well in the regular season. Their talent is obvious to anyone who's watched them play. All I'm saying is their synchronized disappearance in the playoffs left Orlando with a severe deficit on the front line.

I don't think it's at all time to consider giving up on either player, or otherwise look to replace them. They're unlikely to remain unproductive next season. But if another postseason comes and goes with both struggling, then it'd be a pattern, and the Magic would need to weigh their options at that position.

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