Last season, Chris “Birdman” Andersen was forced to watch the Miami Heat‘s visit to the White House where they were honored for their second franchise championship. This year was a different story. Not only was Andersen a part of this very special group that won their second championship in a row, but President Barack Obama even made it a point to call out Andersen himself in one of his rhetorics.
“And from Ray’s big shot to the contributions of Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Birdman, Birdman’s tattoos … Birdman’s mohawk … the Heat showed us the kind of heart and determination it takes to be a champion.”
As comical as President Obama was, it was telling that he pointed out Andersen more than any other player. Andersen’s value for the Heat cannot be overstated. Being such a valued commodity by the Heat organization, it is odd that Andersen hasn’t received more minutes at the center position where the Heat are weakest. Averaging just 18 minutes a game, Andersen hasn’t seen a huge uptick in his numbers since last season — especially in the rebounding and blocks department where the Heat need his skill-set the most. What this highlights is that Andersen isn’t being utilized in the most efficient lineups.
One lineup that has seemed to be the most devastating this season is the combination of Andersen at center and Chris Bosh at power forward (with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen also on the floor). This lineup has the highest win percentage at 78 percent with 14 wins on the season, yet it has only been utilized 18 times. The combination of size, speed and shooting makes this lineup a tough cover, and it features Andersen at center doing what he does best: providing energy and aggression on the boards.
Andersen’s numbers haven’t been eye-popping this season, but this is due to how he is being used on the court. Giving him more minutes and utilizing him in a more efficient lineup is the only way Andersen will succeed this season. Even the President knows it.