Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE
Ryan Anderson enjoyed a career-year for the Orlando Magic in 2011/12, setting career-highs in per-game minutes, scoring, and rebounding, as well as in all shooting percentages from the field, three-point range, and the foul line. For his efforts, the NBA named him its Most Improved Player, which honor will certainly raise his price on the restricted free-agent market in July.
Whether Anderson actually deserved Most Improved honors is a matter of some debate--Eddy Rivera of MagicBasketball.net and Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie have more on that score on their respective sites--it's hard to question Anderson's value to the Magic. He makes opposing defenses pay for over-playing Dwight Howard inside, and does good-but-not great work on the glass at both ends of the floor.
|Points Per Game||Rebounds Per Game||Blocks Per Game|
|Points Per 36||Rebounds Per 36||Blocks Per 36|
|PER||Rebound Rate||Block Rate|
All statistics in this table from Anderson's player page at basketball-reference. Career-best statistics highlighted in gold; career-worst statistics highlighted in silver.
Having said that, Anderson still needs to add to his offensive repertoire a bit before he can join the league's elite. Most notably, he needs to work on creating himself off the dribble when opposing power forwards manage to run him off the three-point line. The three-ball remains his biggest offensive weapon, and when defenses key in on it, they minimize his impact at that end of the floor. He ought to take a cue from Magic teammate J.J. Redick, who entered the league as a stand-still shooter but has emerged, over the last two or three seasons, as an above-average off-the-dribble creator. If Anderson hits the practice floor and does this drill from Redick's website over and over again, he's sure to make himself a more versatile offensive weapon.
Anderson also has his work cut out for him defensively, where he needs to bulk up in order to avoid being made a target. Teams with strong post presences at the four-spot often go right at Anderson defensively to begin games, both to put Anderson in foul trouble and to score inside.
Ultimately, though, Anderson's a brilliant player, arguably All-Star-caliber, despite his flaws. Given his age and track record to date, there's no reason why he can't continue to grow.