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NBA Sunday: Ryan Anderson Searching for Niche
Posted By Lang Greene On October 21, 2012 @ 10:08 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The New Orleans Hornets finished last season 21-45 in the franchise’s first campaign since 2006 without All-Star point guard Chris Paul. With Paul serving as the team’s floor general for six seasons, the Hornets were a perennial threat to reach the playoffs. Now, New Orleans will enter the 2012-13 campaign as one of the youngest teams in the league, still reeling from the loss of Paul and in the midst of a lengthy rebuilding project.
There are three roads to improvement for NBA teams looking to reverse their respective fortunes on the court. The annual draft, trade market and free agency are those paths.
Over the past year, the Hornets believe they have made the right moves in each of those three paths by acquiring high scoring guard Eric Gordon in the Paul trade, selecting former University of Kentucky standout Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and signing 2012 Most Improved Player award winner Ryan Anderson to a four-year, $34 million deal in free agency this past summer.
Anderson has developed into one of the league’s premier shooting big men, but has struggled with his shot mightily during the preseason slate as he tries to carve out his niche with a new franchise. The veteran readily admits the transition has been somewhat of a struggle during the early going.
“I’m trying to figure it out,” Anderson told HOOPSWORLD on finding his groove with the Hornets. “I mean it’s obviously a completely different system. We’ve put in a lot of plays, a lot of sets and we’re still trying to learn and figure out each other. The big thing is just learning how to play with your new teammates and knowing what their tendencies are.”
Anderson was the Hornets’ marquee free agent signing this past summer and is expected to play a significant role in the team’s offense this season. The forward has become efficient the past few seasons stretching opposing defenses with his long range shooting, but he will now also be expected to create more scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates as well.
Anderson’s game hasn’t been predicated on taking defenders one-on-one off the dribble and that explains some of his early struggles, but he believes once he gets more time on the floor with his teammates everything will be fine.
“For me, I really feed off the guys on my team,” Anderson said. “I’m not a big one-on-one wind a guy up type of a player, so I really rely on my teammates to get me going. So we’ve got to get a feel for each other and get better over time. We’ve shown flashes. Obviously in practice when we’ve had a chance to stop and change something, then I’m super comfortable in the offense and with this team. [But] there are moments where I’m still figuring stuff out. I’m still learning where I’m going to get myself going or how I’m going to get the team more involved through my play. It’s an adjustment. Luckily, it’s preseason. This is still training camp.”
One area Anderson believes the Hornets stand in a position of strength is their front office and, more specifically, at head coach with Monty Williams manning the sidelines. Anderson spent the last three seasons playing under Stan Van Gundy with the Orlando Magic, but has quickly become impressed with the dynamic Williams, a former NBA player, brings to the table.
“Monty is a player’s coach,” Anderson said. “Monty is real active on the court [during practice]. He’ll show you what he wants you to do rather than just tell you and I really like that. He’s done a great job with this young group getting everyone together and on the same page. The whole management staff has done a great job getting a good group of guys together who will really listen to Monty. He’s a really smart coach and he’s going to take us a long way.”
The Hornets will open the regular season October 31 on the road versus the veteran-laden San Antonio Spurs, which gives Anderson three more preseason contests to find the elusive niche he’s been seeking since arriving in New Orleans.
Brian Roberts’ Long Road To The NBA
The journey for Brian Roberts to reach the NBA was one of character and perseverance. Roberts starred at the University of Dayton, but failed to hear his name called during the 2008 Draft.
The 6’1 guard was forced to take his game overseas the next four seasons, which culminated in Roberts leading his international team, Brose Baskets Bamberg, to win the German National Championship.
Roberts’ play caught the eye of New Orleans Hornets officials and he was invited to play on the club’s summer league team this past summer. When Hornets lottery pick Austin Rivers went down to injury during summer league play, Roberts filled in admirably and the team signed him to a two-year deal.
Roberts talks to HOOPSWORLD about his journey to the league, playing for head coach Monty Williams and his ability to run the offense as a rookie.
Is Nolan Smith Distracted In Portland?
The Portland Trail Blazers could very well be one of the league’s biggest surprises this season with a healthy LaMarcus Aldridge returning to the lineup and the addition of exciting rookie point guard Damian Lillard.
The addition of Lillard has provided enthusiasm for the club’s fan base, but the arrival has also helped lead to point guard Nolan Smith’s preseason struggles. The Blazers have experimented using Smith at shooting guard this season as it attempts to get Lillard more minutes as the team’s lead point guard. The move likely has contributed to the early struggle in training camp for Smith, although the young guard doesn’t agree.
“I’m a basketball player,” Smith told Chris Haynes of Comcast Sports. “Wherever coach puts me at on the floor, I’m going to play it with the best of my ability. It doesn’t matter where I’m at.”
According to the report, another reason which could be impacting Smith’s on court performance is his unresolved contract issue. The Blazers have until the end of October to exercise the third year of Smith’s rookie deal and up until this point haven’t given any indication of doing so. If the club doesn’t exercise the third year Smith will be an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2013.
“That’s something I can’t control,” Smith said. “All I can do is go out there and play my game. Whatever happens, I’ll have to deal with it. But right now, I just got to play ball and be ready when my number is called.”
Smith is averaging 5 points and 3.6 assists during the preseason, but is connecting on only 25 percent of his shot attempts and turning the ball over 2.2 times per contest.
HOOPSWORLD Season Previews: The 2012-13 NBA season is rapidly approaching and there are plenty of early storylines emerging.
Can the Miami HEAT repeat their championship quest from last season? Is this the final championship run for the aging Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs? Will Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks finally put all of their talent together and join the league’s elite? Can the new-look Los Angeles Lakers, now boasting Dwight Howard and Steve Nash unseat the Oklahoma City Thunder as Western Conference champions? Is this the year the Minnesota Timberwolves reach the playoffs behind All-Star Kevin Love? Likewise, the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors are poised to make playoff runs of their own, but can they seal the deal? Are the Dallas Mavericks toast, or will their new group of hungry veterans surprise us all?
The HOOPSWORLD team has these questions and more all covered and you can find season previews for all 30 NBA teams by following this link.
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