Change of Scenery for Antonio Anderson and Matt Janning Could Benefit Red Claws and Vipers

Two NBA prospects were swapped for each other yesterday when the Rio Grande Valley Vipers sent guard Antonio Anderson to the Maine Red Claws in exchange for guard Matt Janning. Both players have NBA experience, albeit brief.

Anderson earned a call-up from the Vipers to Oklahoma City last season, but he played in just one game for the Thunder. After a stellar season at the D-League level last year that earned him a D-League All-Star Game invitation (he was injured and unable to participate) and 3rd-team All-D-League recognition, Anderson’s numbers have dropped across the board this season. Most notably, his field goal percentage has dropped from 48.6 percent last year to 35.2 percent this season through 17 games.

Janning, a rookie out of Northeastern University made the Phoenix Suns opening day roster this season, but did not appear in a game before being released Nov. 10. He’s played 20 games for the Red Claws, starting eight of them. He averaged 9.3 points on 43 percent shooting from the field, but he leads the league in 3-point percentage, converting on 26 of 56 attempts (46.4 percent). He’s also averaging 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.

The move marks the second time this season that the Vipers have traded a guard who was called up to the NBA last season. Earlier this season they traded Garrett Temple to the Erie BayHawks for Jeff Adrien. The Vipers were 7-7 when they pulled the trigger on that deal. They now sit at 15-7 and in third place overall in the D-League after winning all eight games with Adrien in the lineup. Clearly the Vipers think the addition of Janning will help prolong their winning ways.

This deal has the makings of one that benefits all parties involved. Janning gives the Vipers a knockdown shooter that can stretch the floor. Collectively the Vipers have shot under 34 percent from 3 for the season and Anderson was shooting less than 28 percent from beyond the arc. Expect Janning to be the beneficiary of Mustafa Shakur drive-and-kicks and Jeff Adrien offensive rebounds.

On the flipside, Anderson gets a fresh start in Maine. His drop-off in production is a bit puzzling considering the flashes he showed throughout the year last season, but it’s also understandable considering the talented crop of guards he was surrounded by in Rio Grande Valley this season. The Red Claws, losers of four straight and eight of their last 10 are in need of a jump start. Anderson is capable of being that spark, but the Red Claws do not have a shortage of guards either with the likes of Mario West, Jamar Smith, and Celtics assignee Avery Bradley currently on the roster. The recent overseas departure of Paul Harris should free up some extra playing time. And Anderson will be in line to fill some of those minutes if he can get back to his 2009-10 form.

Both players are expected to debut with their new teams tonight. Anderson’s Red Claws are in Frisco to take on the Texas Legends, and the Vipers are on the road against the Dakota Wizards. Both games can be streamed free online with NBA Futurecast.

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