The Orlando Magic have agreed to sign-and-trade Ryan Anderson to the New Orleans Hornets for Gustavo Ayón, multiple reports indicated Sunday. Anderson, coming off his best professional season in which he earned Most Improved Player honors, is a known NBA commodity, but Ayón just finished his rookie season on a poor team with little national exposure. What can the Mexican center offer the Magic? Can he play at all?
The answers appear to be energy and effort, and yes, respectively. Ayón doesn't put up spectacular individual numbers--5.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.9 combined steals and blocks in 20.1 minutes--but he's efficient, as his 53.6 percent conversion rate from the field attests. Further, the Hornets played significantly better with him on the court as opposed to off it.
Statistical data from NBA.com show that New Orleans' efficiency differential with Ayón on the floor was minus-1.8, a sharp improvement over the minutes-5.1 mark with Ayón sitting.
Further, Ayón plays within himself: he took a whopping 66.3 percent of his shot attempts inside the restricted circle, NBA.com says. By comparison, Magic center Dwight Howard took 65 percent of his shots within the same zone.
Ayón's a dirty-work sort of player, a guy who isn't going to create his own shot, but who also doesn't need to do that in order to play effectively. The 27-year-old got 29.7 percent of his offense from cutting to the basket and shot 70.2 percent in such situations, according to mySynergySports. He generated another 15.7 percent of his offense rolling to the basket in pick-and-roll sets, shooting 60.4 percent there.
All told, Ayón finished his rookie season with an above-average Player Efficiency Rating of 16.7. For a rookie signed as a free-agent out of the Spanish League, that's no mean feat. He's unlikely to approach Anderson's level of productivity, but getting Ayón beats letting Anderson walk as a restricted free agent.