Kyle Anderson is about to enter his sixth year in the NBA. That level of experience on the newest iteration of the Memphis Grizzlies is veteran status. While Anderson has only recently recovered from an injury, the Grizzlies certainly hope to benefit from plugging him into the rotation. Anderson brings a versatile skill set to the table along with a great basketball IQ that can be leveraged well as the Grizzlies experiment and fine-tune their winning formula.
2018 - 2019 OVERVIEW
Prior to Anderson’s injuries, he played 43 games. Of those 43 games, he started 40. Anderson was the “SloMo” to Conley’s “Beep Beep!” In Anderson’s 43 games, he shot 54.3% from the field, 26.6% from behind the arc and averaged nearly thirty-minutes per game. His best stretch of games was in December 2018, including a twenty-point game against the Houston Rockets. While Anderson was not expected to be a cornerstone of the Grizzlies offense, there was upside to having him on the court that the Grizzlies simply could not access once he was sidelined for the season.
Fans can only speculate whether Anderson will earn a starting role when the regular season roles around. Anderson sat out the first preseason game against Maccabi Haifa, but he did make his comeback in the second quarter of the second preseason game against the New Zealand Breakers. In his 16-minutes of playtime, Anderson scored 6 points and snagged two rebounds. Fans have seen such a small sample size, it would be difficult to know the extend to which Anderson will be firing on all cylinders, especially given his position is among the most competitive and because of his shoulder injury from last year that he continues to try to come back from. Anderson told The Commercial Appeal in Wednesday’s article “We’ll have to just see how it goes these next two weeks, see how I feel, if it still bothers me, still limits me,” Anderson said. ”I want to help my team. So if I’m able to, I’ll obviously be out there. But if I don’t feel I can, or if I feel limited, then we’ll go from there.”
2019-2020 BEST CASE SCENARIO
The best case scenario is for the Memphis Grizzlies is for there to be an abundance of talent at Anderson’s position(s) so each player is putting his best foot forward to earn minutes. That scenario includes a healthy Kyle Anderson making plays on both ends of the floor and lending a calmness and mentorship that only experience can provide. Brandon Abraham said it well in last month’s post Fits with Jaren and Ja, “Although he’s not a high scorer, Anderson takes on a different role than most forwards in today’s NBA, as he does a lot of the little things that simply don’t show up in a traditional box score.” If you are looking for a full picture of Anderson’s upside in the numbers, you will get a limited view. Whether he comes off the bench or lands a starting spot, the best case scenario for the Grizzlies is a healthy and hungry Kyle Anderson who can be nimble enough to plugged into lineups where needed.
2019-2020 WORST CASE SCENARIO
The obvious worst-case scenario is that injuries continue to limit Anderson throughout the regular season. Although he may be SloMo on the court, folks are all hoping his body recovers at much quicker pace. It will also be interesting to see how Anderson’s pace of play meshes with a team and a league hell-bent on playing faster and faster. Is there room for a SloMo in such a fast-paced league? That risk is mitigated by the fact that this Grizzlies team is not built around Anderson, so there is likely a time, place and role for everyone.
The safest approach would be to temper expectations when it comes to Kyle Anderson’s role this season. There are too many variables to throw him into the pressure-cooker of high expectations. Fans know this is a season that will look more like a laboratory of development than a grind toward the playoffs, so that should buy Anderson some grace to heal at his pace. If healthy, fans can reasonably expect consistent effort on both ends of the floor from Anderson.