O.G. Anunoby has been vital, even as his offensive role shrinks

O.G. Anunoby is increasingly becoming more and more crucial to the minutes Toronto wins. So why is his role shrinking?

Because he plays for the Toronto Raptors, O.G. Anunoby has played at least 38 minutes in a game 59 times in his career. The fewest triples he ever attempted in so many minutes is two, coming most recently in a late February game against the Detroit Pistons. The six points he scored is also tied for the fewest he's scored in his career while playing so many minutes.

Anunoby had just returned from a sprained left wrist, and his jumper hadn't been falling. He shot 1-for-8 from deep in his first game back prior to the Pistons contest. He has previously suffered from ankle and hip soreness in the season. After the Pistons game, he attempted two triples once again, scoring just seven points.

The stretch was perhaps the low-point of the season for Anunoby, who has had a strange campaign. He (or his camp) in some ways seemed to lobby for more offensive responsibilities before the season. How did Nick Nurse and the Raptors respond? By (again, seeming to) allocating more shots and usage to Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam -- Anunoby's frontcourt partners -- and fewer to Anunoby himself. That's not necessarily bad for the Raptors (although it's worth mentioning Anunoby has the highest effective field goal percentage of the three), and Siakam and Barnes have done quite a bit to earn added usage. Regardless, the optics have been strange. And for a stretch -- again, coinciding with a return from injury -- Anunoby played with less intensity and impact on the game than fans have become accustomed from the forward.

That stretch ended very quickly. Whatever questions the Raptors might have had of Anunoby have been answered and then some in more recent games. It hasn't been consistent, but he's reached his peak more frequently. Against the Chicago Bulls, he scored 17 efficient points while locking up DeMar DeRozan. The highlight came late as Anunoby caught the ball in the post, turned, ripped, drove, and dunked the ball through traffic.

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