The small ball era has created a few new positional designations, most notably the stretch four and the stretch five. Stretch fours are essentially a must-have on an NBA roster, while stretch fives are rarer and therefore more valuable.
Perhaps no player in the NBA has benefited by the stretch four label that Houston Rockets power forward Ryan Anderson. For years, Anderson has been one of the best sharp shooters at either forward position. His sound offensive game has made him a wealthy man and has more than made up for his limitations defensively.
He is a tad bigger and far too slow to be a strong small forward in the NBA. Anderson can rebound, but lacks the necessary lateral quickness to keep pace with the better ball handlers out on the wing. At stretch four, he can create a ton of space offensively in catch-and-shoot opportunities. Without Anderson, the offense in Houston wouldn’t be as lethal.
As long as the game values 3-point shooting from its frontcourt players, Anderson will age gracefully as his career comes to a close. At this time, Anderson’s value at power forward is at its apex.