Mining the Numbers: The Dark Side of Ryan Anderson

Published: August 11, 2015

I love me some threes.  LOVE Them.  It’s partly why I hate the Warriors, because all the threes belong to them.

It follows then that I’d love Ryan Anderson . . . and I do.  When he was signed for a criminal 8mil per, despite being a restricted free agent, I was a bit like this guy from that excellent Anime, Hunter x Hunter.


Though . . . maybe not quite like that . . . since he was looking at a 12 year old . . . and is referred to as a child kill-ester by my son . . . Um, let’s just move on! (It is a good show though!)

Like Graham McQueen posted a couple months ago, there are a lot of reasons we should be excited about Ryan Anderson and his potential in Alvin Gentry’s system.  There is, however, a dark side to Ryan Anderson you simply can’t escape:

He makes your defense suck.  Like really, really bad.  Like awful.  Like tire-fire bad.

You take the team’s big five of Asik-Davis-Evans-Gordon-Holiday, and replace Asik with Anderson and the offense gets 9 points per 100 possessions better.  That’s huge as far as impact goes.  The team’s defense?  It gets 17 points per 100 possessions worse.  For those of you not good at math, that’s huger.

Anderson is essentially taking a top 10 defense, lighting it on fire, and replacing it with the Knicks . . . without Carmelo.  And this issue is consistent across the board.  Insert Anderson for Asik in a line-up with Davis-Pondexter-Gordon-Evans, and the offense gets 11.5 pp100 better and the defense gets 14 pp100 worse.  In the end, you won’t find a single line-up with Anderson in it that even approaches average defensively.

In addition, if you go to’s stats tool and look at the worst opponent fg% at the rim for players who

A. Defended more than 5 attempts at the rim per game, and

B. Played 24 mpg in at least 25 games

you get:

  1. Enes Kanter (UTA) 57.3%
  2. Enes Kanter (Total) 56.9%
  3. Nikola Pekovic (Min) 56.5%
  4. Enes Kanter (OKC) 56.4%
  5. Gorgui Dieng (Min) 55.8%
  6. Jordan Hill (LAL) 55.4%
  7. Ryan Anderson (NOP) 55.4%

In other words, he’s almost as bad as all three versions of Enes Kanter – a guy who is hated by advanced defensive metrics so badly that he is panned as one of the worst deals this off-season, despite being a near lock for a 20-10 statline.  Sheesh.

Therefore, I propose that we no longer include Ryan Anderson as a part of the teams Big Five.  Asik, whose line-up numbers are stellar, should now take that honor.   Who is with me?

. . .

At least until Ryan Anderson hits a couple threes, then screw all that defense noise.

(You’ll notice I called it the Big five, and not the Finishing Five like McNamara does.  Because, you know, Asik has trouble finishing.

. . .

That sounds bad.  Let’s just end this column now before things get more weird.)



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