Alan Anderson: More Than a Consolation Prize for the Wizards | Wizards Blog Truth About

Alan Anderson: More Than a Consolation Prize for the Wizards

Updated: July 8, 2015

[photo credit:]

[photo credit:]

You might have missed news that the Wizards signed Alan Anderson running across your ESPN ticker. It was sandwiched somewhere between another FSU quarterback doing something stupid and the mundanity of July baseball.

This is the type of NBA transaction that certainly will not “break the internet,” or even Twitter, but can still make-or-break an attempt to get over the hump of the conference semi-finals. Anderson is not Paul Pierce (nor, for that matter, is Jared Dudley or Gary Neal), nor is he the previous apple of Washington’s eye, David West (who spurned the Wizards and more money for a “really good chance to be competitive for an NBA championship”).

This signing is, however, another notch in Grunfeld’s modern bedpost. It’s an indication, along with Pierce’s role at the 4 in the playoffs, that the Wizards’ front office and coaching staff may be turning the clock forward. Finally. As Grantland’s Zach Lowe has noted, the Wizards are on a roll as far as smart signings go:

“There’s nothing fancy here, but they got Jared Dudley for nothing and Gary Neal for the biannual exception — just over $2 million. Dudley did great work in Milwaukee as a small-ball power forward, but he’s not a full Paul Pierce replacement. He doesn’t have a legacy of big-balls shot-making, and he can’t create shots off the dribble or from the post when a possession is dying.

“But these are smart signings for a team making them on the regular these days. They are one of the few teams left who might realistically spend the full midlevel, and with West off to the Spurs, they have to move on to their second choice.”

Well, it appears Anderson was that second choice. He’s a productive wing player who can provide an efficient scoring touch, while also being able to adequately defend the 2-3 positions at or around an average level. In this NBA, where increasingly position-less basketball has paved the way for the rise of the “3-and-D” player, Anderson can, if things break right, be a critical part of the Wizards rotation of wing players. Even more important is that his one-year, $4 million deal will ensure that Washington will continue to maximize all of their cap space for a certain DMV-native free agent in 2016.

The 3-and-D designation has been thrown around pretty loosely among members of the NBA community, but it’s the term—not the value of 3-point shooting and wing defense—that is oversaturated. Not every wing player who jacks up shots is considered a shooter, and not every guy with a long wing span is a lockdown defender. Anderson might have somewhat of a reputation for being a 3-point specialist, but, truthfully, his career 34.8 percent rate from behind the arc seems to tell a different story. Anderson is not a 3-point specialist by any stretch of the imagination, but what he has realized over his six-year NBA career is that 3-point attempts provide value even if you’re not Ray Allen or Steph Curry.

Part of Anderson’s offensive value is the fact that, for his career, 45.3 percent of his field goal attempts were 3s. For a team that has attempted a below NBA average 17.3 3-pointers per game in the five-year stretch of franchise player John Wall’s tenure (noted by TAI’s John C. Townsend), acquiring a savvy veteran like Anderson who understands the value of the long ball will add another threat to a roster that has in prior years lacked shooters.

Anderson has never made more than the league minimum in any given season, and his career NBA earnings are $3.6 million. His underrated defensive effort, on top of his 3-point shooting, may have contributed to the pay raise. At 23 minutes per game, Anderson was the sixth-ranked shooting guard in the entire NBA at Defensive Real Plus-Minus (DPRM): his DPRM of 2.21 ranked just ahead of defensive stalwarts Andre Iguodala, Iman Shumpert, and Danny Green. Anderson is the type of player who has tasted “Basketball Siberia” (almost literally) with career stops in Russia, Italy, Israel, and the D-League, and he knows that maximum effort on the defensive side of the ball could keep him on this side of the Atlantic.

At 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Anderson gives the Wizards the type of defensive versatility that they need to compete with the dominant wing players scattered throughout the Association (i.e., LeBron James, the gatekeeper for any Eastern Conference team).

Washington did not have the luxury of being able to pay the DeMarre Carrolls and Paul Millsaps of the world this summer, but the team has made well-calculated gambles on players like Dudley, Neal, and Anderson.

Playing with a point guard (Wall) who has the uncanny ability of spoon-feeding teammates the ball in great positions to succeed may be the right situation for Anderson to further advance his career. The worst-case scenario is that the Wizards just picked up another so-so shooter who will only marginally help the the team in 2015-16 and will be off the books next summer, completely forgotten in Wizards lore soon thereafter. Only time will tell, but in consideration of the current market, this is a smart, forward-thinking move by a franchise that suddenly seems set on embracing the future.


Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. Bylines on bylines on bylines.

Will write for food.