The Grizzlies signed restricted free agent Kyle Anderson to a four-year 37 million dollar contract on Friday. The San Antonio Spurs had 48 hours to match the offer if they wanted to keep the 24 year old wing player, but they elected to let him walk and become the newest member of the Memphis Grizzlies. This is probably the one and only big free agent acquisition for Memphis this summer. Since Kyle Anderson is a relatively unknown commodity in general NBA circles, I wanted to sit down with Pounding the Rock Writer, Bruno Passos, to get a better idea of what we can expect from Kyle Anderson this coming year.
What is Kyle’s biggest strength?
Bruno Passos- Probably his defense and defensive versatility. His size and rebounding make him perfectly serviceable at the four, and he spent even more time slotted in at the two and three in San Antonio, starting in the place of Danny Green two years ago and Kawhi Leonard last year. He’s not super quick, but his high basketball IQ and length make up for it when keeping up with perimeter guys, and Pop often turned to him to take Kevin Durant duties when Leonard wasn’t available. Look up his Defensive Real Plus Minus over the years and you’ll see how much the advanced stats love him. He’ll eventually find his niche on offense in Memphis, but his defense should translate right away.
What is Kyle’s biggest weakness?
BP- He has a few limitations on offense, but the most obvious one is his three-point shot, which he’s yet to hit consistently and often passes up - even when open in the corners. That’s where most of his attempts came in San Antonio, and he still often opted to fake the shot and attempt to make something happen off the dribble. It can also be an issue when he’s sharing the floor with other non-shooters.
He doesn’t shoot threes, for a team that needs shooting, that’s not great. What does he do to make up for his lack of outside shooting?
Kyle isn’t a typical wing, and his offensive impact can be limited in traditional lineups where he’s expected to do small forward things like spot up or break defenses down. He’s not what Chandler Parsons was supposed to be. In the new NBA, this shouldn’t be a problem, though -- surround him with enough floor-spacers, use him as a secondary creator, and you have a 6’9’’ point forward who can see plays develop three steps ahead of time, finesse his way to his rim, and catch off-ball defenders off-guard whenever they fall asleep or ball-watch.
How do you think Kyle will fit in with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley?
I like the fit, maybe more than in San Antonio to be honest. That’s mostly because of Conley, who can create off the dribble and hit from deep in ways Dejounte Murray can’t just yet, but it’s a great help to play with two stars that can both do the one thing he’s struggled with until now. All three are smart guys who shouldn’t take long to figure each other out.
What do you think he need to improve on to outperform this contract?
As things stand, I think he’s already close to equal value on that contract. If he ups his volume and efficiency as a three-point shooter, he becomes a legitimate two-way talent, and that contract becomes a real bargain.
Will he fit the mantra of ‘Grit and Grind’?
Kyle isn’t exactly the embodiment of smashmouth basketball, and he’s not quite got the temperament of a Z-Bo or Tony Allen. That said, when you watch him pass up those trendy three-point shots, when you see that Memphis scored just 88 points in a victory in which he played 34 minutes and had a 4-9-5-3 stat line, or when you find yourself stanning for him for all the little things that less observant fans happen to miss, I imagine there will be at least a few tinges of winsome nostalgia.
Kyle Anderson could easily become one of the best free agent signings of the summer and have one of the most valuable contracts in the NBA in a few years. Hopefully his three point shooting shortcomings won’t become an issue in a different system with the Memphis Grizzlies and he will be able to contribute to the team right away. All signs so far point to him being a valuable starting wing player next year.