Why the Orlando Magic Must Lock Ryan Anderson Up to a Contract Extension

Hunter KonsensCorrespondent IIJanuary 19, 2012

Ryan Anderson
Ryan AndersonJ. Meric/Getty Images

Orlando Magic power forward Ryan Anderson is off to a fantastic start this season, as he is averaging a career-high 17.8 points per game.

After an offseason of wondering whether the Orlando Magic could convince Dwight Howard to stay in Orlando, Anderson has stepped up his game and become a star in Magic coach’s Stan Van Gundy’s three-point heavy offense.

Besides the Dwight Howard fiasco, however, Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith’s main objective should be to lock up Anderson with a long contract extension.

Coming into this truncated season, many were wondering whether Anderson or new addition Glen Davis would receive the opportunity to start. Van Gundy chose to stick the more versatile Anderson into that role due to his familiarity with the offense and Davis’s ability to play center.

The team hasn’t looked back.

Not only has Anderson exploded on the scene, as he is averaging 17.8 points per game, but the young forward from Cal has also become more aggressive.

His 7.2 rebounds per game average is a perfect testament to this newfound aggressiveness.

Plus, the starting power forward has not relied on the three-ball nearly as much as he has in the past. Anderson is taking the ball to the hole with determination and racking up the free-throw attempts.

In Wednesday night’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Anderson hit a fantastic 10 for 10 from the line. Not bad for a player formerly labeled “soft.”

Ryan Anderson
Ryan AndersonBrett Deering/Getty Images

Anderson’s most impressive feat, however, may be how much more efficient he has become. On the season, the sharpshooting big man is averaging a remarkable 41 percent from three-point range, which is a huge accomplishment for a power forward.

His compatibility with Dwight Howard also might be the most important aspect of Anderson's game. When Howard becomes swarmed by defenders in the paint, “Superman” has the luxury to kick out the ball to one of the premier behind-the-arc shooters in the league.

Ryan Anderson credits his success to the confidence his fans, teammates and coaches have in him.

"I feel good. I feel confident and comfortable," Anderson told Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. "My teammates are looking for me, and all I have to do is keeping making shots and crash the boards."

But Anderson is not the only one who has commented on his spectacular play. Charlotte Bobcats star Corey Maggette has also been vocal on the subject.

"The way Anderson is playing is unbelievable," the Bobcats SF told Schmitz. "He gives them a different dimension to the game."

No matter what Orlando decides to do with D12, the Magic absolutely need to lock up Ryan “Rhino” Anderson—a restricted free-agent next offseason—to a long-term contract, as he is O-Town’s one promising prospect.

The marksman is only 23 years old and still has tons of years left in his career. Sure, he may never develop into an All-NBA talent, but it would be a shame to see Orlando lose another young star.