Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: In light of the recent piece about Shane Battier in the New York Times highlighting Shane as a "no-stats all star" what do you think of the prospect of Antonio Anderson of Memphis becoming a future Shane Battier type player in the NBA? Regardless of height/size and position differences, it seems they both excel at shutting down the opposing teams' top player and amassing all the statistics that don't necessarily show up in a stat line?
I get a similar question from time to time because I live in Memphis, and today seems like a reasonable day to finally address it given that Anderson forced UAB's Robert Vaden into an 0-of-17 effort from the field Thursday night. So let's address it. And I suppose the thing to do first is to point out that Shane Battier was the National Player of the Year in college, a guy who averaged 19.9 points and 7.3 rebounds in his senior year at Duke. Simply put, Anderson is not that kind of college player. He's just not. So what we're really comparing is not whether Anderson can be Battier at the NBA level, but whether Anderson is in college what Battier is in the NBA, and I think that's a fair assessment.
Antonio Anderson is to the Memphis Tigers what Shane Battier is to the Houston Rockets.
That makes sense.
But expecting Anderson to be a "future Shane Battier type player in the NBA" is probably a bit of a stretch, because what you're asking is whether Anderson can start and play 30 minutes per game at the NBA level, and that's going to be difficult for a variety of reasons, most notably because he's a shooting guard who isn't considered a great -- or even good -- shooter. Consider: Battier made 41.9 percent of his 3-point attempts as a senior at Duke while Anderson is currently making 26.7 percent. So again, I think it might be a little much to ask Anderson to be Battier at the NBA level, but there's no question he does for the Memphis Tigers what Battier does for the Houston Rockets, which is why he's leading Memphis in minutes played for the fourth consecutive season.
You get that?
Through the past four years, Memphis has had Derrick Rose, Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams, Tyreke Evans, Darius Washington, Joey Dorsey, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Jeremy Hunt and all sorts of talented dudes who are better shooters, scorers or players in general. And yet nobody has played more minutes per game in any of the past four seasons than Antonio Anderson has played for John Calipari, and that should tell you all you need to know about his value as a college player on a succesful college team.