Ryan Anderson cues up for a three, and in the half second it takes him to launch the ball, he’s already taking a few steps backwards. Watching the ball sink through the net is merely an expected outcome, a notion not too uncommon for the best shooters in the league.
Anderson went off in the first half against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, shooting 8/12 from the field for 21 points. Head coach Steve Clifford made the appropriate adjustment, having Nicolous Batum guard the 6’10’’ big man after halftime instead of the slower-footed Frank Kaminsky.
But the damage had been done, and Anderson's hot shooting scared the Hornets so much that Marvin Williams had to hug Anderson on the final Pelicans possession in order to prevent the open look. Incidentally, that decision gave Anthony Davis an open lane to the hoop, and Jrue Holiday just had to throw it higher than Jeremy Lin could jump. Game winners are not supposed to come that easily, thank you Flame Thrower.
"It's awesome for me," Jrue Holiday joked post game Friday. "He probably had eight of my ten assists. When he's like that, all you have to do is feed him, and he's knocking down everything."
He finished with 32 points, four shy of his career high, and when things are rolling for Anderson, he feels like he's in the zone.
"It's sort of instinctive," Anderson said. "That's when it's most fun, when you're zoned out and just playing."
Anderson has shot the ball well throughout the whole season, but had recently taken a dip in productivity from outside the arc during the month of January. He had been shooting 33 percent from deep before Friday’s contest, after shooting a scorching 37.9 percent and 38.5 percent from deep the two months prior.
Normally, Anderson seems to go as this team goes. He shoots a scorching 53.4 percent from the field and 53 percent from behind the arc in wins, compared to a 39.5 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from three in losses.
That's a wild difference, and no other Pelican has such drastic difference in proficiency. It's clear Anderson's productivity best puts the Pels over the edge, hence, there exists strong incentive to get him rolling in every game.
Many often lament his well-documented defensive flaws. Anderson's shorter figure and below average wingspan make it difficult for him to come out and guard taller, more athletic stretch fours. It also makes it tougher for him to rotate and challenge guards.
Here, Anderson is left to mark Zaza Pachulia but has to sprint out to challenge J.J. Barea whom was freed after a high pick and roll from Dirk Nowitzki.
Anderson was already out of position, simply by not having the measurables to challenge JJ's shot, resulting in an easy mid range jumper for the Dallas veteran.
He has consistently had trouble doubling ball handlers on defense, committing too much and not defending the passing lanes, which leads to easy layups.
Here, Anderson attempted to double Dirk on weakside, and when Dirk recognized the double left Zaza wide open, he quickly tossed it to the fellow Maverick for the easy score.
Anderson did a better job defending off-ball this past Friday, but Kaminsky's tall frame made it hard for Anderson to challenge his shot. In general, the Hornets found success against Anderson, making 7 of 11 shots from the field.
When Anderson's in the lineup, the Pelicans are known for firing on all cylinders offensively. Take note, though, of all the statistics of the Anderson-Davis-Evans-Gordon-Holiday group this season.
Let it sink in.
For those clamoring to trade the big-man, his defensive flaws can be overcome -- you better get someone with that kind of game-changing ability in return for me to be on board.