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Why Ryan Anderson makes sense in Houston

He wasn't the Rockets' first, second or even third choice in free agency, but Ryan Anderson's offense is much needed in Houston.

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Yeah, I know. He wasn't the guy we all wanted. And it's understandable. Al Horford had everything the Rockets seemed to need. There were two main downfalls of this Houston team last season -- defense and shooting -- and snagging Horford could help both deficiencies with one signing. But Big Al was likely never coming to H-town, and deep down, most Rockets fans knew that.

So with their top choices off the board and the possibilities of killing two birds with one stone slipped away, GM Daryl Morey (certainly with the input of new head coach Mike D'Antoni) made a prudent move and snagged the best available shooter in free agency by signing Ryan Anderson. Sure, the 4-year, $80 million contract looks like crazy money for what basically amounts to a one-way player. But that's simply the reality of the new NBA.

With guys like Harrison Barnes getting 4-year, $95 million offers and Austin Rivers (yes, Austin Rivers!) signing for 3-years, $35 million, suddenly giving $20 million per season to one of (if not THE) league's quintessential stretch four doesn't seem so out of whack.

And make no mistake about it, this stretch four can shoot. Anderson is a career 37.7 percent shooter from downtown and averages 2.0 threes per game for his career. He's also coming off one of the best overall seasons of his career in which he averaged 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists while shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from beyond the arc.

He once led the league in three-pointers made, hit 213 of them in his first year in New Orleans and knocked down 131 triples last year with the Pelicans. He's averaged 138 threes per year over his last 6 seasons, and that includes the 2013-2014 season in which he played just 22 games.

But lest you figure deep shooting is all Anderson can do, he's also got a smooth step back jumper that he utilizes quite often in which he hit on 57.0 percent of the time (49 for 86) and an equally as effective fade away, which he hit on 57.3 percent of the time (43 for 75).

He's willing to work the pick and roll and should look fantastic running it alongside James Harden, as Anderson ran as the roll man 168 times last year ( as a comparison, Dwight Howard ran 91), and his points per possession of 1.07 as the roll man put him in the upper third of the league for efficiency on the play.

Anderson immediately becomes the second-best offensive player on the Rockets and gives Houston something they sorely lacked last year: a player to rely on for scoring when The Beard is resting, being hounded and doubled, or simply just having an off night. The man can score.


Sure, there are concerns. He's a liability on the defensive end, finishing with a positive defensive plus-minus only one time in his career, and his career average of -2.1 is worrisome, but it's not all terrible on the defensive side. Anderson did finish with a -0.2 differential percentage, meaning the players he guarded this year shot 0.2 percent worse against Anderson than they did against the rest of the league.

He's also an injury risk. The 6'10" Anderson has never played all 82 games in a season, and has lost time over the last three years due to a neck injury, a knee injury and a sports hernia, with the neck injury the big one, costing him 60 games in the 2013-2014 season. He played 61 games in 2014-2015 and 66 this past year.

Anderson is far from a perfect player, but he is a good one, primarily on the offensive end. He also addresses need, grabbing the Rockets one of the Association's premiere shooters and giving The Beard some much-need help carrying the scoring load. All too often last year it was Harden and nobody else putting the ball in the bucket. That will certainly change with Anderson on board in a Mike D'Antoni-led offense.

Envision the cornucopia of wide-open threes about to be available to the big man after Harden gets into the paint. Anderson hit on 46 percent of those open three-point shots last season, a better mark than anyone on the Rockets (Patrick Beverley led the team in open three percentage at 43.3 percent). The Rockets are about to become deadly from deep with Anderson and fellow signee Eric Gordon now aboard.

This signing may not be exactly what we were hoping for, and Anderson certainly comes with his blemishes, but he's 28-years-old, still in his prime, fulfills two major team needs and comes at roughly market value in this new era of unprecedented NBA spending (don't forget that $12 mill per year for Austin Rivers!).

All in all, for what basically amounts to Daryl Morey's fifth choice at best, it's a solid signing that makes sense. If Anderson can stay healthy, it'll be bombs away every night inside the Toyota Center.