The Los Angeles Lakers’ dream quartet of All-Stars has been more of a nightmare than anything. Dwight Howard and his ailing back has deprived LA’s front line. Pau Gasol can’t find his comfort zone. Kobe Bryant continues to be Kobe Bryant, but isn’t getting much help from his teammates, while Steve Nash has been, well, Steve Nash.
So what’s the answer to the Lakers’ struggles? Ryan Anderson.
The sharp-shooting big man is a near-perfect fit for Los Angeles, as he can shoot the 3-pointer and works well off of off-ball screens. Essentially, he’s what the Lakers are pressuring Gasol to become–a big man who can consistently shoot the 3-pointer. Except, Anderson is already a finished project, whereas Gasol isn’t exactly thriving in his new role, shooting 30.4 percent from downtown.
Why the Lakers Need To Make This Deal
Anderson, who shot 39.3 percent from 3-point range last season, is back at it again this season. His tremendously quick stroke has him shooting a nifty 40.4 percent on 3-pointers, which ranks 27th in the league. More importantly, he’s improving on a year-to-year basis.
In 2008-09, Anderson’s rookie season, he shot a mere 36.5 percent from beyond the arc. Obviously, that figure is nothing out of the ordinary, but impressive for a player of his size and mobility. But his percentage leaped to 37 percent the following season, 39.3 percent in 2010-11, it remained the same in 2011-12 and now sits in the 40-plus percent range.
There probably is a cap as to how much more Anderson can improve his 3-point shooting percentage. Still, his constant progression will make his already team-friendly contract even more friendly given his upside.
Take note: He won’t make more than $9 million in any single season and is under contract until the end of the 2015-16 campaign. For someone who’s a lethal threat from downtown and is just entering the prime of his career, a team couldn’t ask for much more in terms of his affordability. Plus, from a Lakers’ standpoint, Anderson would be cheap compared to some of the salaries that make up their budget.
Better yet, Anderson has shown that he works well with sterling facilitators. Why is this important?
Because if Anderson were to be dealt to the Lakers, he would have the privilege of working with Nash, a Hall of Fame point guard. Yes, playing with Nash is a privilege for spot-up shooters, especially those of Anderson’s size, because the pick-and-roll could also be incorporated. So, it would behoove of Anderson if he was able to work with pass-first point guards, which he certainly can.
Greivis Vasquez, the Hornets’ budding floor general, has assisted 64 of Anderson’s field goals this year, which is a team-high by a significant margin. I wouldn’t say Anderson is completely incompetent at creating his own shot. Of his 227 made field goals, 71.7 percent of them are assisted, which does suggest that he is almost strictly a spot-up shooter.
A lot of the time, though, he’s left wide open because his defenders don’t want to or can’t cover him on the perimeter. This is due to the fact that Anderson is a mobile 6-11 while his defenders are static.
So when Anderson stretches the floor by camping out beyond the 3-point arc, they don’t know how to react. And sometimes, they simply can’t. Dirk Nowitzki, for instance, uses many of these same advantages. It’s worked well for him, I’d say.
With all factors considered, it’s safe to say that Anderson would benefit with the opportunity to play alongside Nash. Then again, most shooters would.
How This Deal Would Work
Obviously, the Lakers would have to trade Gasol and probably take on a few contracts they’d like to avoid. But to get Anderson, they will have to succumb to these obstacles first.
Perhaps a third team could get involved; the Utah Jazz, for example, would be an appealing third team because they have some spare parts that may complete a deal.
Let’s say that the Jazz do become involved. They could trade Paul Millsap, who will be a free agent after the season, to the Hornets, while the Lakers could eat up the contracts of Marvin Williams and Raja Bell, providing Utah with some budget relief, while adding an experienced forward in Gasol, who will be under contract after this season.
Financially, the above deal works perfectly. Perhaps Bell, who thrived with Nash in Phoenix, would be rejuvenated. Williams, meanwhile, has underachieved greatly after being chosen No. 2 in the 2005 draft. But with Jordan Hill out for the remainder of the season, he could bolster a depleted Lakers’ bench. Nash could, again, aid this process by setting Williams up for success.
If there’s ever such thing is the “right” move, trading for Anderson would be the “right” move for the Lakers.
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