Making the Case: Do you trade O.G. Anunoby?

What do you do with O.G. Anunoby?

We’ve seen 3 Raptors entrenched in rumours this season: Gary Trent Jr., O.G. Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet. With the trade deadline coming up, I’ll assess the pros and the cons of trading them and keeping them. We obviously can’t say exactly what comes back in a trade, but I hope that everyone is okay with my forecasting/reading of the room on value. There are some factors I simply can’t control for.

Here's the piece on Fred VanVleet.

Here's the piece on Gary Trent Jr.

Let's talk about O.G. Anunoby. And before we make the case for why he should stay, let's talk about the latest news regarding his availability, since I know there's been a lot of stuff out there lately.

First thing to understand? The reports that came up in the summer about his disappointment with his role have resurfaced in basically the same fashion. It was Jake Fischer in the summer, and recently it has been Ric Bucher and, oddly, Bob McCown. Anunoby did have a larger role to start the season as the Raptors tried to navigate injuries, but as the health of the starting lineup returned, his role shrunk once again. I covered this topic this summer, and in summation said I believed that Anunoby was disappointed in his role at that point in time, but that doesn't necessarily equate to him asking out, and that other teams were clearly more interested in Anunoby than vice versa. The reporting at the time was in line with comments Nick Nurse had repeatedly made over the course of the season about how they had to start focusing on getting Anunoby more possessions in these games. They had done so through rote post-ups, an easy way to insure he gets a touch. He had more post-ups than both Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam despite returning much worse numbers in the playtype.

The big difference is the surrounding reports regarding the Raptors willingness to deal Anunoby. On Tuesday, Shams Charania reported that the Raptors are now taking calls on Anunoby. The verbiage of news breakers is intentionally vague and the same rumours get spun in a lot of different directions, so who knows. However, the Raptors are in a different position team-wise now, than they were in the summer. The Raptors appear to be at a crossroads as they approach this trade deadline. They have a bunch of talent that is, reportedly, heavily desired around the league, but that talent hasn't translated into wins for their own squad. Reports are that the Raptors could get as much as 3 first round picks in an Anunoby trade, per Adrian Wojnarowski. There was a rumored New York Knicks offer of Evan Fournier, the Knicks 1st this season, and 2 other protected firsts. The Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies are also, reportedly interested.

Anunoby responded to the latest reports, when asked about it by Michael Grange:

"No. It is what it is." Anunoby said, adding, "No, it doesn’t bother me. What can I do about it? I didn’t tell anyone to do that story or say whatever. It’s not my choice for whatever is going on to be going on. I can’t control it, so what’s the point of being mad about it?" when asked about it.

Okay, we're up to date. Let's talk about why you don't trade him.

Anunoby is one of the best defenders in the NBA, hits his threes, cuts at an elite level, and finishes at the rim. While he has underwhelmed as a creator -- with, now, a healthy amount of games attempting to do so -- he still can do it in a pinch. The first 3 games of the series against the 76ers where he averaged 24-4-3 on 57-percent shooting doesn't mean you have to bet on his future as a creator, but it does mean he can ratchet things up from time to time at the very least. For playoff teams, having one of your closing players be a guy who can do a number of things against a closeout is a very big deal.

That is an extremely valuable player.

Teams that are looking to trade for Anunoby are either looking to legitimize themselves as a very good team, or a title contender. That's the level of play that Anunoby brings. When you get him, you understand that you're going to be able to transform quite a few of your lineups, add a significant amount of defensive stopping power and versatility, and at the very least add a positive tertiary player on offense.

He's on contract for another year and a half, and then after that you'll have bird rights to keep him in house. A rare player. These types of guys are very rarely developed through the draft, and they rarely hit free agency to sign. He's very unique, he's very good. That's the largest reason for why the Raptors shouldn't trade him. Even without appealing to untapped potential or anything of that ilk, it's hard to make the case for why the Raptors would move on from him.

If you take stock in the rumblings about Anunoby's happiness with his role in Toronto, which is fine because the rumblings have been loud and persistent for months and months now -- not to mention reported by a wide variety of people -- then the answer to role change for Anunoby may be answered by the other trade candidates on the roster. Anunoby is considered to be in the sweet spot between the Fred VanVleet-Pascal Siakam timeline and the Scottie Barnes timeline, and if the Raptors decide to change the landscape of their team, Anunoby will likely be in a position to take on a larger role that he, reportedly, craves. Who knows? He may thrive.

Whether or not you think Anunoby deserves a larger role, or has been compelling enough in his attempts at it, putting players in positions to succeed and develop is on the list of responsibilities of an organization. Sometimes, the respective visions of each party are incompatible. However, Anunoby is good enough that you try to make it work.

Now, let's talk about why Anunoby would make sense to trade.

5 thoughts on “Making the Case: Do you trade O.G. Anunoby?”

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