Whoever's idea it was to sign Chris "Birdman" Anderson deserves a raise.
The Heat went out and bought a Band-Aid that happened to be the exact same shape as the wound. Anderson's strengths have played directly to Miami's weakness.
There was no interior activity from the bigs before the Birdman arrived. Think about the depth they had at the 4 and 5 positions. Joel Anthony was the only big man they had coming off the bench, and with all due respect, I've got a refrigerator in my kitchen that offers more versatility.
But I guess you don't need much of a bench when you have a guy like LeBron James who could play five positions in a half.
Still, take a look at this box score from Miami's second unit, when the team scored 77 points against Indiana earlier in this season.
|Shane Battier, SF||17||1||0||0||0|
|Joel Anthony, C||12||1||0||3||0|
|Norris Cole, PG||15||3||0||0||5|
|Ray Allen, SG||16||1||1||2||0|
|Mike Miller, SF ||14||2||1||0||3|
It's not even about the numbers. It's about the energy, activity and flexibility of the members on that bench. Not to mention the fact there's only one center and no power forwards waiting to check in.
In Game 1 of this year's Eastern Conference Finals, Anderson went for 16 points on a perfect seven-of-seven shooting, along with five boards and three blocks in only 18 minutes.
He produced a shot chart that should be hung and framed in the central wing of the Museum of Modern Art. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, "The Birdman":
I know, it's breathtaking.
As a 6'10'' athletic big man, Anderson gives Miami an extra target for easy buckets they wouldn't have without him.
Anderson provides a service that the other Miami bigs can't: playing on the move. None of his points or blocks come off two feet. He scores off cuts, tip-ins and alley-oops while swatting balls as a roaming interior defender.
Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem certainly don't score on the move. Even Chris Bosh gets the majority of his baskets in a set position.
Anderson's ability to make things happen without having his number called is exactly what Miami's frontcourt depth was incapable of. I like to call it off-ball playmaking—being able to contribute without using a dribble.
Anderson knows how to read plays and put himself in scoring position. And given his athleticism and efficiency as a finisher, his finishing range is deep. He's capable of converting at awkward angles or turning those angles into easier opportunities.
With the dexterity to finish around defenders or over them, Anderson doesn't have to rely on lower-percentage touch shots. Birdman scores on the way down instead of on the way up.
And with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade so good at breaking down the defense, the opportunities will be there for Anderson as long as he remains active.
The high-flying energy that Anderson has brought to the table has helped cover up Miami's only weakness. He brought a new dimension to Miami's frontcourt, and it's been just what the doctor ordered.
Shaq and Kenny Smith dig the Birdman so much they created a theme song in honor of Miami's colorful new hero: