Who is Alan Anderson?
As some Minnesotans may recall, Anderson was Minnesota’s 2001 Metro Player of the Year playing for DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis. After accepting a full ride scholarship to play for Tom Izzo at Michigan State, Anderson became an immediate contributor as he appeared in every game during his freshman year averaging 24.5 minutes per game.
A four-year starter in East Lansing, he appeared in the 2005 Final Four and was voted co-team MVP during his senior season by his teammates. After not hearing his name called in the 2005 NBA Draft, Anderson lingered between Charlotte and Tulsa playing for the Bobcats and their D-League affiliate 66’ers for two seasons before eventually signing with VidiVici Bologna in Italy. He became somewhat of a journeyman playing with four European teams in the next three years, but made his return to the states in 2010 after being selected 2nd overall by the New Mexico Thunderbirds in the NBA Developmental Draft.
In only ten games, Anderson averaged 21.1 points – the third best scoring average in the league – while also contributing 5.8 rebounds and 5 assists per game. He shot 53.1% from the field, 38% from beyond-the-arc and 81.8% from the charity stripe during his time with the Thunderbirds. His strong play once again earned significant interest from a few international basketball clubs and he returned to Europe to play for the Spanish League powerhouse Barcelona and higher pay. Anderson wasted no time in making a big impression with his new club, earning MVP honors at the 2011 Spanish Cup. With positive international spotlight on the swingman, the NBA finally came calling.
On March 26, 2012, the Toronto Raptors signed Anderson to a 10-day contract and liked him enough to keep him through this past season. However, the cash-strapped Raptors are prepared to say goodbye to the unrestricted free agent swingman as he is likely due a raise from his minimum paychecks the past two seasons. Despite failing to become a name in the NBA, Anderson is a proven winner. He’s a 6-foot-6, 220-pound gritty defender and is serviceable offensively.
Anderson averaged 10.7 points per contest playing for the Raptors last season, and is a career 35% three-point shooter. He is a good ball-handler and has a natural shooting stroke. If he can shoot 80%FT and 30%3PT while having a well-defined role in the offense, he very likely could find a niche for a number of teams.
Could a return to his hometown of Minneapolis be exactly what the 30-year-old needs to ignite his career? I doubt that there are many other players left in free agency that can bring the same type of production as Anderson with as cheap of a price tag. Whoever the Wolves ultimately sign to replace Andrei Kirilenko will need to fit in well within the offense when sharing time with Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams and Shabazz Muhammad.
If the Wolves sign Anderson, he will be asked to do the things that he is best at, which is primarily shooting spotted-up three-pointers while working his butt off on the defensive end. If he can grasp a role as a complimentary bench piece, it won’t be long for the native Minnesotan to gain admiration for his long and rigorous road to the NBA.