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Was Ryan Anderson snubbed?


Ryan Anderson has long been a statistical dream for many many analysts. A high-efficiency scorer who can step out and hit a 3-pointer to spread the floor but can also get down low and work the offensive glass and in the post. There were somewhat scary statistical comparisons to a young Dirk Nowitzki during the lockout.

Everyone was excited for Anderson to get his opportunity at playing time and his opportunity to start for the Magic.

And Anderson has not disappointed.

He got off to an incredibly hot start and led the team in scoring for the first part of the season. He is averaging 16.3 points per game, shooting 42.1 percent from beyond the arc, has a 55.4 percent effective field goal percentage and is one of two players on the Magic with a PER greater than 20 (22.6).

Anderson is having a very very very strong year. So strong that there was legitimate thoughts that he should be an All-Star.

Of course, the reserves were announced last week and Anderson was not on the list of reserves. And really he was not even on the first list of snubs. Josh Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Kyrie Irving and even Lou Williams. Anderson was not fresh on the national pundits’ minds when it came to All-Star snubs.

Not that it mattered to Anderson. He secured an invite to the 3-point shootout and so he will represent Orlando in that capacity. And he stated before the All-Star selections were announced that it was simply an honor to be considered for a spot on the All-Star team (on his home floor, no less). Even he could not dream that he would actually be playing in the showcase game Sunday night.

Still, there are no denying the numbers. While he may not have the highlight plays of Smith, the name recognition of Stoudemire, the defensive prowess of Chandler or the expectations of Irving, Anderson does have one thing — he is an elite shooter who is playing better statistically than just about all those players mentioned before.

Picking an All-Star is certainly an inexact science. It is part rewarding players, part rewarding teams playing well and part respect for the veteran establishment. Coaches from within the conference vote on the thing, and so you have to wonder how much time they have to watch other players all the time — other than scouting tapes and in the games they play against them. Especially this season with so few games played before All-Star selections were made, it seemed like the coaches would fall back on habit.

However, by several statistical measures, Anderson seemed very deserving of spot on the team.

Neil Pane put the NBA All-Stars through the statistical paces to discover who really should be on the teams. Ryan Anderson, as you would expect, performed very well when statistics were taken ending February 2.

He was second among Eastern Conference forwards in wins produced per 48 minutes (.254), outproducing even Dwight Howard (.194). Anderson is fifth among Eastern forwards in adjusted plus/minus at +4.1 (again, beating Dwight who was at +3.2, far outpacing second place Roy Hibbert). He is second in statistical plus/minus at +6.2. Second in alternate win score-plus at 201 and second in PER, behind only LeBron James among forwards.

What all that amounted to when Paine surveyed the numbers and where players rank both in individual statistical data and data that compares a player’s impact to his teammates and on the floor at his position was that Ryan Anderson should be starting alongside James in Orlando on Feb. 26.

Anyone certainly seems like a better option starting there than Carmelo Anthony.

Statistically speaking, then, Anderson is an All-Star.

But as I alluded to earlier, there is much more to being an All-Star than putting up good numbers. There is a certain visual flair or perception that comes with being an All Star. There seems to be a belief that All Stars can do more than one thing well and can create for themselves.

Most would admit Ryan Anderson is just a pure shooter. The numbers back that up and Anderson most takes 3-pointers. Anderson has taken 182 3-pointers this year and has matched that with 99 field goal attempts at the rim. Those are the two most efficient areas to try and score. Anderson has taken 84.4 percent of his shots from those areas.

But if you are looking for what else Anderson does that is All-Star worthy, you will be hard pressed to find it in his individual statistics. Anderson is assisted on 98.7 percent of his 3-point attempts (exactly what you would expect) and he is assisted on 43.4 percent of his shots at the rim.

Overall Anderson is assisted on 76.0 percent of his field goals. Anderson has been assisted on at least 75 percent of his shot attempts in all four years of his career.

If an All Star is the kind of player that can create his own shot and dominate games, it seems Anderson is not that player.

Stan Van Gundy has said Anderson still has a lot of things he needs to improve. His defense is still a little bit behind and his rebounding, while underrated at 12.7 offensive rebound rate and 13.6 total rebound rate, is not anywhere near elite.

Anderson is not a one-trick pony for sure, but you cannot blame voters for thinking so. At least by the numbers.

Anderson is getting a lot of comparison to Rashard Lewis‘ 2009 All-Star season. Setting aside the veteran factor that worked in Lewis’ favor that year and the Magic’s strong record that season, Rashard Lewis took 70.0 percent of his shots from 3-point range or at the rim and was assisted on just 40.6 percent of his shots at the rim and 94.5 percent of his 3-pointers. Lewis was slightly more dynamic and could create a little more for his team in 2009.

This is even though Anderson is filling up the numbers a little bit more — Lewis’ PER that year was 16.9, so Anderson has him there.

Ultimately, the question of whether Anderson is an All Star or not is a matter of taste. The coaches voted and obviously did not have Anderson on the final list (although, it is looking like Derrick Rose might need a replacement).

I do not think I would have him in either, considering everything. But Anderson is right on the door and having a fantastic season.