New Orleans' Anderson welcomes a shot to play for Team USA

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013 - 11:30 am

LAS VEGAS – Good shooters are always picky about the basketball they use during games. And Ryan Anderson is no different.

The former Oak Ridge High School and Cal star is getting a feel for the ball used in international competition at the Team USA minicamp at UNLV.

"It's so different," Anderson said. "It's just slippery."

That's about the only gripe you'll hear from Anderson, who is trying to earn a spot on the National Team.

Last summer, Anderson was named to the Select Team that practiced against the National Team, but the restricted free agent withdrew. He was later dealt from Orlando to New Orleans in a sign-and-trade with a four-year deal worth $36 million.

"It's been a great experience so far," Anderson said of the minicamp. "We've had great runs. Obviously there's a lot of talent in this room. It's just a great opportunity to come out here in the middle of the summer and compete. And not just get ready for next year, but more importantly to have an opportunity to represent your country is pretty amazing."

For New Orleans last season, Anderson averaged a career-high 16.2 points and was second in the league in three-pointers attempted (557) and made (213).

Anderson's scoring was slightly better than the 16.1 points he averaged with Orlando in 2011-12, when he won the Most Improved Player award.

Entering his sixth NBA season, Anderson is one of the more experienced Pelicans. When he arrived in New Orleans last season, he was asked to be a leader.

Anderson embraced the role, which was new for him at the NBA level.

"Last year, I thought he was a bit hesitant because he'd just got to the team," said New Orleans coach Monty Williams, an assistant with Team USA. "Now I think he's just taken on a different role because he knows the guys, they know him, he's put the work in, and they're following him because he can play."

The Pelicans have been among the most active teams this offseason. They traded for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday from Philadelphia, and they sent starting point guard Greivis Vasquez to the Kings in a three-team deal that brought Tyreke Evans to New Orleans.

The Pelicans also have Anthony Davis, last year's No. 1 overall draft pick, and Eric Gordon, the key player acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Chris Paul trade in December 2011.

"I have an opportunity to be a young veteran on this team again, and obviously having another year under my belt gives me more confidence to go out and know what I'm talking about with this team," Anderson said. "I know what I'm doing on the court. It'll be a great year. It's really challenging me to show the kind of leader I can be."

Anderson also is looking forward to playing with Evans.

"Tyreke, he's a heck of a player, and he's exactly the type of player we need with his ability to get to the rim and be aggressive to score," Anderson said. "(And he creates) opportunities for myself and the rest of the team and … can really suck the defense in."

Evans might be looking forward to his first game in Sacramento next season, but perhaps not more than Anderson.

The Kings were playing at New Orleans the day the Maloofs announced they had a deal to sell the team to a Seattle-based group.

Anderson was vocal about his disappointment and hoped the Kings would remain in Sacramento.

Like many Kings players, Anderson had grown weary of questions every year about the possibility his hometown team would move.

"The team's going to be around, and it's great for the city, great for that organization, and the fans are obviously excited," Anderson said. "It's an exciting time for Sacramento, and I know that my family and loved ones are really looking forward to next year and that group."

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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