Andersen’s high IQ: ink, intensity, impact

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com

Chris "Birdman" Andersen continues to elevate his game in the postseason. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

Chris “Birdman” Andersen continues to elevate his game in the postseason. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

MIAMI – The tall, spiky Mohawk is gone now, replaced by a low ridge of dark blond hair that looks more Duck Dynasty than rooster’s comb. But Chris (Birdman) Andersen‘s impact remains the same, or at least nearly so: Considerable.

Through the Miami Heat’s 11 postseason games so far this spring, Andersen has posted some of the defending champions’ most impressive advanced statistics: An offensive rebound percentage of 12.2, a playoffs-best blocked shot percentage of 7.1, a 66.3 true shooting percentage and a PER of 21.9 (compared to his career 16.8 mark).

And then there’s his impact on the scoreboard in the Eastern Conference championship round against Indiana that resumes with Game 3 Saturday night in Miami (8:30 ET, ESPN). In the series opener, Andersen missed only one of his seven shots and scored 14 points with four rebounds, two blocks and a steal. He was a plus-3 in plus/minus rating in a game the Heat lost by 11.

In Game 2, Birdman – who allegedly prefers to be called “Birdzilla” lately – scored just three points but grabbed 12 rebounds. And in the 28:30 Andersen was on the court, Miami was 25 points better than Indiana.

His net offensive/defensive rating of 16.1 across the Heat’s three rounds is better than those of LeBron James (5.3), Dwyane Wade (3.2) or Chris Bosh (1.6). In the second halves of these games, when winning gets dialed up (Miami is 9-2), Andersen’s net is 20.4.

And if your eyes are starting to glaze over at all the numbers an decimal points, here’s Miami coach Erik Spoelstra putting Andersen’s impact in more traditional terms prior to the calendar break in this series: “We needed his energy, his toughness, his rebounding, his defense,” he said. “This is a big-muscle series, so we need what he brings to the table.”

At 6-foot-10, 245 pounds and six weeks shy of his 36th birthday, Andersen is giving up four inches, 45 pounds and nearly eight years to Indiana center Roy Hibbert. But compared to Udonis Haslem (even shorter) and Bosh (even slighter), Birdman is the best choice to body up the Pacers’ big man, and sometimes power forward David West.

Then there’s the way he throws himself at the boards and around the court, a bigger, paler and probably inkier version of Dennis Rodman doing the blue-collar stuff for a team built around future Hall of Famers. Frankly, the way the Heat embraced Andersen and his checkered reputation (drug ban in 2006-07, bogus allegations against him as victim in an extortion scheme in 2012), it is reminiscent of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Chicago Bulls accepting – and reaping rewards from – Rodman during their 1996-98 three-peat.

More tats or fewer, hairier or less so, Andersen has shown himself to be a solid playoff performer in his herky-jerky career, posting PER numbers better than his regular season performances in four of the past five seasons. A year ago, he was better even than now, with a 19.2 net rating and a 24.9 PER (17.4 in the regular season). But that was achieved on raw ferocity and activity, coming at the end of his first Miami season.

This time around, Andersen is more familiar with his teammates and Spoelstra’s sets. As he told Jason Lieser, Heat beat writer for the Palm Beach Post, this week: “I feel a lot more comfortable just because I’ve been here for a while. I learned the system by repetition and I just do what I do, so that makes it a little more simplified.”

That qualifies as a soliloquy for the gruff, media-dodging Andersen, who in some interviews can make Gregg Popovich seem Dick Vitale loquacious. It has been the talking Birdman does on the court that has mattered in this round – he’s averaging 24 minutes compared to 14.9 in the regular season and 16.1 in the Heat’s first two series against Charlotte and Brooklyn. He wears himself out as a half-time player, too, from all the banging, the pounding and the intensity level at which he plays.

Spoelstra said of Andersen at one point in these playoffs: “He plays until he has zero in the tank.” Given Birdman’s results, though, the Pacers are the ones feeling a little empty when he’s on the floor.

25 Comments

  1. william says:

    BIRDMAN HE IS A UNIQUE PLAYER……KEEP IT UP!!!

  2. joezstuff says:

    You can’t compare Apples and Oranges…..Bidman and Rodman are two distinct entities….They both are Awesome in their own right!!! Birdmand is a wrecking ball of todays basketball players…and Rodman was also of his time!! BUT different teams …different times!!!

  3. chris says:

    The Pacers will never recover. they will lose on the 5th game. They will go home as losers.because the pacers are very inconsistent. they were leading to 15 points but what happened,? they get intimidated immediately. The Heat maintained their composure until they eventually outscored the Pacers. Go heat!

  4. Jerry Lynch says:

    Chris Anderson is my favorite player for the Heat. He is making a difference and this year he’s even scoring.

  5. skrulewi says:

    Rodman is a hall of famer. NBA defensive player of the year. Rebounding champ god knows how many times. Please don’t compare birdman to rodman.

    That said, birdman is great and a joy to watch, and a true role model. Fought through drugs and awful false accusations to be a world champion. That’s truly wonderful.

    • European says:

      He has not been a world champion, he has been an Nba champ, fool. World championships are going to be held later this year and you certainly will not see this guy in the squas…
      And if Chris woukd have an high IQ then he wouldn’t loook like a clown he is right now. Comedyclown, only in USA. He is very useful for his team tho, for a minimum wage…

  6. JBR says:

    As a Nuggets fan, it’s great to see the Birdman doing so well.

    He deserve all the success and accolades he gets. Amazing a guy who looks so distinctive can FLY under the radar for so long.

  7. J4CK Nicholson says:

    No disrespect to the Bird Man, but he’s still a poor man’s version of the Worm. Having said that he deserves the recognition and I think he’s doing his part really well and a vital cog to their 3-Peat quest.

  8. 19GnR21 says:

    WELL SAID SIR,

  9. ERIC SANDS says:

    NO “BIRDMAN”….NO NBA CHAMPIONSHIP !!!

  10. Jill says:

    Rodman deserves the recognition as well as Birdman. He is a very special player that makes the game more enjoyable. His effort and hard work will give iamb another championship. Go bird man. You are one of the most favorite players in the NBA. Just not always recognized. The writer of this article is quite an intelligent man to use the right adjectives about Birdman.

  11. Edjumacator says:

    No disrespect for Anderson but Rodman was far beyond him.

  12. IHateChicagoBulls says:

    Birdman > Rodman

    FACT!

  13. Bob Ellison says:

    A delightful read, beautifully written. Great to see the tattered phoenix rise from the Asches, & get his well-earned appreciation and applause.

  14. Antonio Av says:

    youve got to be crazy comparing birdman to dennis rodman. the worm was on a completely diffetent level.

  15. Mark Melius says:

    Birdman is a true nightmare on the court. He makes the Pacers pay and beats them on the boards and has great energy. He has got to play more minutes. He should probably even start in my opinion. BIRDMAN is BIRDZILLA for real! Imagine if him and Oden end up playing together in a game, Miami will be able to match up Pacers in size and beat them badly. Either way, Miami is definitely going to win the series. Pacers will try hard and try their best and put up a good fight, but the defending champs will teach those little boys whose boss

    • mee(a)t says:

      Birdman shouldn’t start. He (along with Norris Cole) brings the energy to the team when they step onto the court. Plus Birdman has bad stamina.

  16. r says:

    birdman birdman

  17. Miami Heat Fan says:

    Whenever he enter the game always played with energy, toughness, rebounding, and his untiring defense. Keep it up! 2 thumbs up for you Birdzilla!

  18. Rhedz03 says:

    birdman or birdzilla..wtv is his name…im just proud and happy that his not wasting the opportunity given to him by the heat..and he’s doing really good and hoping he continuous wtv the hell his doing in / on the court. he deserve that 2nd ring…and so as the whole team…hope they finiswh the pacer fast…4-1 heatnation ! burn them pacers alive…3 peat for the heat..4th ring for wade

  19. Chris Terrence says:

    Chris is everything a a great basketball player should be. He works hard, he’s tough, he’s a great team player, he is fearless, never mind the great rebounding skills, scoring skills, and besides all that, he is so much fun to watch. Thanks for recognizing how much he has contributed to the successes of the Heat. Lebron has always acknowledged it. On the court, to me, I put him right up there with Dennis Rodman, who was the same kind of give it all for the team player, and one of the best rebounders of all time.

  20. jdub455 says:

    Birdzilla will have 2 rings in his belt by the end of the playoffs!!!!

    • Juice says:

      Yeah, at the end of theplayoffs he’ll buy one from Danny Green.

    • no says:

      i dont believe the spurs will be able to sign him during the playoffs…lol

      • Knuckz says:

        Danny Green was exposed last year. He can shoot against the West, but not the east. Run him off the 3-pt line and he’s a useless