Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter
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NEW ORLEANS The way Ryan Anderson sees it, by next season, he'll be leading the Pelicans to the Western Conference finals just like Peyton Manning has led the Denver Broncos to the AFC championship game.

Anderson, after all, has been told his herniated disc injury is similar to the one that kept Manning out of football for a year.

'That's kind of the person they over and over talk about,' Anderson said Monday night, the first time he has spoken publicly since suffering the injury on Jan. 3 at Boston. 'Obviously, he's having a pretty good recovery, I'd say.'

For now, though, Anderson will remain as inactive as possible. The recovery for him currently consists of just rest and as little physical activity as he can get away with doing.

He'll get another MRI on the neck, where herniated C5 and C6 discs, sometime in the next month or two, imaging that will determine whether he'll eventually need surgery.

Already he's in better shape than he was just 10 days ago, when New Orleans' leading scorer collided with Boston's Gerald Wallace. Anderson, who was taken off the floor on a stretcher, has much less nerve pain in his right arm.

Initially, the 6-foot-10 forward said while he didn't lose feeling in any of his extremities, he had enough pain in his lower arm that he 'couldn't even put (his) hands down on the sheets when (he) was going to bed.'

'I feel completely normal,' Anderson said. 'I feel fine. But obviously I can't go back on the court or do a ton of pounding or things on my body, which is going to be really frustrating so when that comes around, that's kind of the next step.'

When asked if physicians expressed to him whether he was predisposed to this injury, Anderson, 25, said they weren't positive one way or another.

Meanwhile, as he continues his convalescence, he'll take the time to lead from the sideline when he can.

'This is such a young group and obviously we've talk about it so much this year, but we need veteran leadership guys to step up and this is an opportunity for me to do that vocally,' Anderson said. 'I would prefer to lead on the court. That's kind of the way I play. This is a challenge that I want to accept and definitely do whatever I can to help these guys and the team while I'm out.'

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