Chris Andersen Has Been Exactly What Miami Needed
By: Pedro Heizer
When Miami signed Chris “Birdman” Andersen to his first 10-day contract about two weeks ago, Miami knew what they were getting. A player ready to prove all the doubters wrong, something the Miami Heat as an organization has been doing for a while now.
Andersen, 34, has been out of the job since early July, when the Denver Nuggets, the team in which he started his NBA career, parted ways with him – and the $9 million still owed him.
Andersen has had a troubled past in the NBA, from January 2006 to January 2008 Andersen was banned form the league for violating the league’s banned substances policy.
After a short stint with the New Orleans Hornets, Andersen once again found a home with Denver, where he would be known simply as Birdman and notable for his distinctive hand-to-neck tattoos. Andersen quickly became one of the top per-minute rebounders and shot-blockers in the league.
From 2008 through the end of last season, Andersen, who with his hard-nosed work on the glass was averaging between 10 and 11 rebounds per 36 minutes in each of his four seasons, was one of Denver’s most vital parts off the bench.
However, last May, Andersen’s home was searched during an investigation of an Internet crime and although he was never charged, the bad press and changing roster dynamics led the Nuggets to part ways with the fan favorite.
Since then, the Birdman has been looking for a new nest.
Enter the Miami Heat, a team facing challenges in rebounding (26th in the league in overall rebounding rate, a 20-spot drop from last season) and overall defense (Miami is 11th in the league in defensive efficiency, seven spots off last year’s pace).
Andersen, who is long, athletic and active, enticed the Heat’s brass as he would potentially offer help on both fronts.
Once again, Pat Riley hit the nail in the head.
The acquisition of the Birdman not only rejuvenated the 34 year old – who recently told the South Florida’s Sun Sentinel that he is not at 100 percent just yet, stating he’s only at “six feathers” out of a total eleven – but has also rejuvenated the Miami Heat.
In contests where Andersen has played more than 10 minutes, Miami has averaged 9.2 offensive rebounds.
When Miami first signed Andersen, no one expected him to even crack the rotation, some went as far as to say Andersen was this season’s version of Eddy Curry. But, in the past few games, Andersen has been putting up very good numbers.
In fact, Andersen’s offensive efficiency is another bonus. Andersen’s range is limited to at or near the rim, but his career effective field goal percentage (which accounts for free throws) of 55 percent is a significant upgrade over Anthony’s career mark of 50 percent.
In six game with the Heat, the Birdman has put up 3.7 points and is snatching four rebounds per game, all in 10.8 minutes per game.
Andersen has earned his place in Miami and the Heat should reward him by signing him for at least the end of the season.