Page last updated on Tue Dec 01 20:33:33 EST 2015
Wed, 09 May 2012 03:46 AM EDT

Magic forward Ryan Anderson entered this season knowing he’d have an opportunity to contribute to an NBA team like never before.

A full-time starter for the 1st time, he turned that chance into the best regular season of his career and was rewarded with the league’s Most Improved Player award. Football lines

NBA officials were at Amway Center to present the 23-year-old Anderson with the honor.

In his 4th season since being taken 21st in the 2008 draft out of California, Anderson started 61 of 66 games in the shortened regular season and led the league in 3-pointers made (166) and tried (422). He joins Rashard Lewis as the only other power forward to lead the league in 3-pointers made. He averaged career highs in points (16.1) and rebounds (7.7).

Anderson also turn into the 5th Magic player to win the award since it was 1st handed in 1986, joining Hedo Turkoglu (2008), Tracy McGrady (2001), Darrell Armstrong (1999) and Scott Skiles (1991).

“It’s extremely surreal for me to be sitting where I am today,” Anderson declared. “A year back if you would have asserted I would be the Most Improved Player, I’d possibly laugh at you in the face. This year has just been a final result of lots of different things and lots of different people helping me.”

Anderson received 260 of a probable 605 points, including 33 1st-place votes from a panel of 121 sports writers and broadcasters in the U.S. and Canada. Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova (159 points, 21 1st-place votes) came 2nd and Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic (104 points, 10 1st-place votes) was 3rd.

Anderson came into the season with a career average of 8.6 points per game.

Magic CEO Otis Smith said that he was “proud of the basketball player he is” since Anderson came to Orlando from the Nets as a part of a multiplayer trade in 2009.

“He did the work and made himself into a greater basketball player,” Smith said. “He’s in the 1st part of receiving his dividends. … He’s making me look like a genius for making the trade.”

Anderson’s breakout season will surely help him this summer when he’s a restricted independent agent. The Magic have the choice to match any deal that another team offers him. Smith related they’ve already voiced to both Anderson and his agent that they’d like to keep him in Orlando long term.

Anderson credited Magic assistant Steve Clifford and Coach Joe Ragowski “for helping me with my game and taking it to the subsequent level.” He said he entered this season with a very different focus level.

“I really did put in the time,” Anderson related. “I saw that I may have a chance here and I put in the hours.”

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Anderson’s accomplishment was a product of the work he put in staying in shape in the lockout even though he didn’t have admittance to team trainers as he was used to.

“To be honest, the bigger thing that has improved is he’s gotten more possibility,” Van Gundy said. “But he’s also gotten stronger. … Did I foretell this? I do not know. But I knew he could help us.”

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