Eric Pincus has been mentioning Derek Anderson as a Laker target for point guard since long before it became fashionable. And now itâ€™s fashionable. The Los Angeles Times and just about everyone else has the Lakers ready to offer the $5 million mid level exception to him, and heâ€™s likely to take it.
So, what would the Lakers get for their $5 million? Frankly, it depends on how healthy Anderson is. Do the Lakers get the 2003 version of Anderson, who played in 76 games that year, had a PER of 16.9 and shot 49.6% (eFG%). Or, do they get the 2005 Anderson who played in 47 games, had a PER of 11.7 and shot 46.3%. Letâ€™s take a little closer look at the two versions of Anderson.
When heâ€™s healthy, Anderson is the kind of guard who would fit the triangle well. Back in 2003, Anderson was a +4.7 per 48 minutes (the Blazers scored that many more points with him on the floor versus off), a good number. He can shoot â€” overall he shot 49.7% that year, 35% from three point range and scored 1.11 points per shot attempt (all good numbers), 81% of his shots were jump shots and he shot 45.9% on those (of course, thatâ€™s eFG%). He drew fouls on 8.5% of his shots, not a high number but not bad for someone who hangs on the perimeter â€” and when he got to the free throw line he hit 85.9% of the time. His offensive rating was a solid 115 (points per 100 possessions, the league average was 104). He split time between the one and the two that year (which is fine the way the triangle works).
Defensively (because, letâ€™s face it, thatâ€™s the Lakers biggest need) he was basically average â€” he gave up 105 points per 100 possessions (for comparison, last year Chuck Atkins gave up 115). Focusing on when he had to cover point guards, he held them to 45.2% shooting and forced about 4.2 turnovers per 48 minutes (something the Lakers need). While heâ€™s no stopper, the 2003 version of Anderson would be a big improvement for the Lakers.
But what if they get the 2005 version? The version with the bad back that keeps him out of games.
That Anderson was basically a neutral force for the Blazers in 04-05 (-0.4 for the season). He could still shoot the three (38.4%) but overall his shooting slumped â€” 83% of his shots were jump shots and he hit 43.3% of them. He got 1.01 points per shot attempt and had an offensive rating of 103 (per 100 possessions, the league average last year was 106). By the way, he spent little time at the point in Portland last year (which is understandable with Stoudemire and Telfair on the roster), mostly playing the two. Defensively he fell off to a rating of 111 (per 100) and he created 2.6 turnovers per 48. When your back is sore itâ€™s hard to guard anyone.
Anderson would be a good fit for the Lakers â€” if heâ€™s healthy. (Another â€œifâ€ for the Lakers next season.) The person who should make the final decision on this contract is the doctor the Lakers hire to do Andersonâ€™s physical. Are the back spasms and problems a thing of the past? Will the Lakers get the Anderson of the past? If so, heâ€™ll be a great fit at the point.