Chris “Birdman” Andersen got back to his high-energy ways last season once he got back on the court from off-season knee surgery and mid-season back injury. The veteran continues to play a key role with the Nuggets as the team’s big energy man off the bench and looks to bounce all the way back next season.



Chris Andersen
6’10’’ 228 lbs.
Turns 33 years-old July 7, 2011

Experience: The 2011-12 season will be Birdman’s 10th in the NBA.

Contract status: Andersen has 3 years and roughly $13.56 million remaining on his deal.

Overview of 2010-11 season:
Andersen came back from off-season knee surgery and looked more like his old self than he did the injury riddled version of Birdman that we saw during the 2009-10 season. Andersen suffered a setback on December 3rd against the Los Angeles Clippers when he came down hard on his back after a shot block attempt and fractured a bone in said back. The high flying energy Birdman has been playing through pain for the better part of two seasons and with age comes slower recovery time. When Bird was healthy he looked pretty good – after returning from the back injury Andersen posted 10 games of double-digit scoring and that’s pretty impressive because he does most of his work off offensive rebounds and is not a focal point of the offense. Birdman did show some good chemistry coming off pick-and-rolls with Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, and Ty Lawson and displayed some shooting touch as well away from the basket. The aging athlete in the NBA is not usually able to keep relying on his athleticism, but Andersen is already said to be feeling better than his has in a couple years and with his limited minutes he should be able to give the Nuggets just what they need off the bench.

2010-11 stats:

Andersen played in 45 regular season games last year and in all five of Denver’s playoff games.

Minutes: 16.3 per game (18 career)

59.9% – career high (50.6% career)
FT: 63.7% (64.4%)
Free Throw attempts per game: 3.0 attempts (2.5)
Three-point: n/a
Three-point attempts: n/a

Steals: 0.5 per game (0.4)

Blocks: 1.3 (1.6)

Assists: 0.4 per game (0.5)

Rebounds: 4.9 per game (5.2)
Offensive boards: 1.7 (1.8)
Defensive boards: 3.2 (3.4)

Scoring: 5.6 ppg (5.4)

Positives / What he brings:

Andersen is best used in limited minutes off the bench. He’s a shot blocker, dunker, and rebounding machine. When he steps on the floor you can expect him to use up all the energy he has. If you ever played NBA JAM then you are familiar with the Turbo feature – this feature was a bar of turbo “juice” that if you held down a button your player would run as fast as he could until the “juice” ran out. Well, Andersen’s energy is like that turbo juice, when he has a full tank he can ignite the crowd with his high flying antics and effort. When he’s used up that juice it’s time for him to be pulled from the game to re-load. Not the most fundamental player around (Kenyon Martin‘s favorite thing to tell Bird seems to be, “STAY DOWN BIRD!” when he leaves his feet for a pump fake), but Andersen’s chaotic style lifts the Nuggets and makes the Denver bench one of the best in the league.

Negatives / What needs to improve:

If Andersen doesn’t have that “Birdman” persona going – whether it be playing injured or being out of gas – then he is a very ordinary player. It was tough watching Birdman struggle through injuries and not be an effective piece for the Nuggets. Again, he’s not the most fundamental guy around and will leave his feet for any/all pump fakes, can get into quick foul trouble, doesn’t have the most reliable jumper, and can go cold from the foul line (where he averaged three attempts per game last season). As Andersen ages he’ll need to keep working on his shooting and more fundamental defense. We’ve already seen a bit of a decline in Andersen’s ability to block shots as players are able to sneak more shots around and over him – so boxing out and staying with his man are going to be more important as his athleticism betrays him thanks to Father Time.

Outlook for 2011-12 season:

I’ve been reading about Andersen feeling healthy and working hard with strength coach Steve Hess. With a game built around his jumping ability, injuries unfortunately should be expected. Birdman needs to be the energy guy to be a special player and there shouldn’t be any major issues with that heading into the season. It seemed like last season Bird tried to change his game too much and wasn’t doing what made him an NBA player. Andersen and the coaches seem to realize he’s the energy guy and shouldn’t want him to be anything more. He can be a special player and an effective one doing what he does best … blocking shots, rebounding, and throwing down crowd pleasing dunks. We can say we want to see improvement at the foul line and with his jumper, but at age 32-33 we are probably looking at who Andersen is and always will be. There is nothing wrong with Andersen’s game and I’d argue that his value to the Nuggets is great and that he continues to be a big reason why the Nuggets bench is one of the best in the NBA.

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
[email protected]