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The underrated Kyle Anderson and the decisions ahead

Is there still room for Slo-Mo in Memphis?

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2022 NBA Playoffs - Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

“JERSEY!”

The call-out almost became a nightly routine for Bally Sports Analyst and former Memphis Grizzly Brevin Knight. Whenever Memphis Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson would do something amazing on the hardwood, you could bet money that Knight would pay homage to their hometown of New Jersey.

Anderson, whom signed with the Memphis Grizzlies back in July of 2018 on a four year 37 million dollar deal has given the Grizzlies so much more than that contract entailed looking back. Only 28 years of age, Anderson has been this Grizzlies team’s “veteran” throughout the last three seasons.

The Grizzlies couldn’t have picked a more unselfish basketball player on and off the floor for this transition of Grizzlies basketball. Anderson has been the definition of a “pros” “pro” in his four seasons with the Grizzlies, and with this season being the end of his four year deal, it could be the end for Anderson and Memphis.

Let’s stop writing the obituary and take a peek back at Anderson’s seventh season in Memphis.

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Two Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Anderson’s role with the Grizzlies shrunk this past regular season, as he dealt with lower back injuries, and just overall guys that fit the scheme the Grizzlies ran throughout the regular season more. Anderson played in 69 games, the same amount from the 2020-21 season, however Kyle’s minutes dropped down to 21.5 per game.

  • Anderson’s points per game dropped from 12.4 during the 2020-21 season to 7.6 this past season.
  • Anderson raised his on court +/- to a +3.0 this last season.
  • Anderson transitioned to the small ball big for Memphis at times. Per Basketball Reference, Anderson played 62% of his time at Power Forward and 30% at Center for Memphis.
Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Four Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Even when the playoffs rolled around, Anderson’s role and minutes with this team shrunk. Anderson’s minutes dropped from 28 last season to 18 this playoffs. Not only that, but his production while on the floor shrank as well.

Anderson’s points per game dropped in points per game, assists, rebounds, and steals. Of course, the lack of time on the floor will hurt those categories, but you can’t help but think someone is going to pay Kyle Anderson this summer to be their bench anchor with an increased role.

Wait, let me stop writing the obituary!

Anderson played a phenomenal game four for the Grizzlies in the second round against Golden State. A game four that Memphis’ youth showed its true colors, Anderson showed his seasoned pedigree.

See, if Anderson does indeed depart in free agency, it won’t be just because of the money. Anderson mentioned in his exit interviews about wanting to be on a contender, and while he didn’t say it, I’ll say it for him - an increased role.

The hype surrounding this Grizzlies’ age has been quite intriguing. A guy like Kyle Anderson has been lost in the shuffle. Well, not lost, but a victim to the numbers. Guys that have higher ceilings that are younger. While the Grizzlies leaned on that youth all season, Anderson’s production was needed come playoffs.

When Memphis locked Anderson in four years ago, this franchise didn’t know what they were getting. A long and lanky 6’9” Anderson went through a shoulder surgery on his shooting shoulder, and became an elite finisher around the rim for Memphis. Yes, this team is young and developing. So was a 25-year old Anderson. Now at age 28, heading into his eighth NBA season, Anderson internally has to look ahead to free agency.

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Three Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Stop writing the obituary!

This is easily one of the more underrated moves of the Grizzlies offseason. Anderson dealt with injuries this season, however, it felt like Jenkins playing style went more and more away from what Anderson does best. Creating in the half-court. At 28 years old, Anderson’s role is trending down with this roster, unless some shakeups are made regarding the forwards.

A shakeup that doesn’t seem possible in regards to a front office that is committed to maximizing their young cornerstones. Anderson’s growth from an unknown to a legitimate winning wing option for any franchise is special.

Anderson’s role in Memphis moving forward is blurry, especially with the upcoming draft. However, one things for certain — Memphis couldn’t have asked for a better veteran to transition one era to the next. For that, the city of Memphis should be thankful.

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