Toronto Raptors rookie OG Anunoby has progressed to participating in contact drills and five-on-five activities, Raptors Republic has confirmed. Anunoby mentioned he’d been scrimmaging at Media Day yesterday, but there was some confusion as to the extent of his participation and what his official status was. So consider this verification of that status, at the team level, and apologies for not being able to confirm yesterday.
The No. 23 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Anunoby was originally considered a likely lottery pick until concerns about a torn ACL from January conspired to sink his stock. Sliding to No. 23, many league voices believed Anunoby to have dropped too far, and with the news that Anunoby is already doing five-on-five work eight months and change removed from the injury, those voices may grow louder.
One of the best picks in the draft looking even better now https://t.co/H5xYVPWIeY
— Cole Zwicker (@colezwicker) September 26, 2017
If Anunoby is already doing this, he should've gone 10 spots higher. https://t.co/NzOoAMURB3
— Brad Rowland (@BTRowland) September 26, 2017
Wow. If he's that far along, he fell way too far. https://t.co/VYDJfFJbAg
— Greg (@gwiss) September 26, 2017
Whatever the value, the Raptors are surely thrilled at the progress. Back in July at Las Vegas Summer League, Anunoby was running, cutting, shooting set shots and even doing box jumps, but updates the rest of the summer were scarce. On Sunday, a report from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star said Anunoby “may” be back in November, and today’s news should lend optimism toward that timeline.
The Raptors won’t rush Anunoby, of course. Each player, injury, and medical staff is different, and one player’s five-on-five may not be another’s. How Anunoby’s body responds to live play and his comfort level with the knee will likely dictate the timeline from here, and the Raptors have plenty of room to practice patience. They may even prefer to have Anunoby spend some time with Raptors 905 when their season opens in November to build his conditioning back up to full-game levels, shake off any rust, and gain some experience within the team’s systems.
Anunoby factors into the team’s plans in both the short- and long-term and he could play an important part as the season rolls along. If his collegiate reputation and NBA projections hold up, he’ll be among their best and most multi-faceted defenders immediately, potentially unlocking some fun and versatile lineup combinations in bench or even closing units. In time. How his shot has progressed over the summer will be interesting to see, too, as it’s a big swing factor in his eventual NBA upside.
You can refresh yourself on all things Anunoby here.
The team is unlikely to provide much in the way of specifics from here, at least until he’s ready for game action. When that might be is still a matter of question, but the move to five-on-five activities is some of the best news they could have hoped to open training camp with.