This Raptors season has seen a lot of new storylines and wrinkles that have overshadowed some of the consistent positive things that have happened. Whether it has been Scottie Barnes’ leap into stardom, Pascal Siakam’s tumultuous season, Darko Rajakovic’s first season as a head coach, and a world of other things, many things have taken the spotlight away from the fantastic season that OG Anunoby is having.
Much like his demeanor in front of the media, OG Anunoby is quietly having an amazing season where he is an integral part of the success that Toronto has on the court. This season, Anunoby is averaging 15.8 points, 2.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 49 percent from the field with a 61 true shooting percentage. This year, Anunoby has really taken his off ball role to the next level and he has been the perfect connective tissue in every lineup he is a part of. Through the 12 games he has played this season 75 percent of OG Anunoby’s two point field goals and 97 percent of his three point field goals are assisted, which are both career highs for him. Anunoby’s threes were always highly assisted but his two point field goals assist percentage shot up by over 19 percent. So although he is creating his own two point looks less than he has before, his scoring has still remained similar and this is because he has been expertly attacking off of the catch this season. Anunoby has always been a smart off ball player but this season it seems that he has been more content with biding his time off the ball and allowing others to initiate actions in order to get him going downhill. Anunoby also has flashed some really nice playmaking chops as well, his feel for lay down passes after a drive are marvelous, and his nose for interior passes is intriguing, he truly is the perfect complimentary player that any team would love to have.
This season, Toronto is a much better team with OG Anunoby on the floor and this is on both ends as well. With Anunoby off the court, Toronto has a net rating of -8.20, an offensive rating of 108.86 and a defensive rating of 117.06. When Anunoby is on the floor the net rating jumps to 6.34, the offensive rating goes to 115.9, and the defensive rating goes to 109.56. OG is shooting 41 percent from three on 6.5 three point attempts per game and this is crucial to the ecosystem in Toronto because there is a heavy lack of shooting and OG brings immense value to any lineup he is in based on just his shooting alone.
Defensively he is bringing the same elite coverage that he has brought for most of his career, and the same versatility that we have grown to expect from him. Whether he’s guarding guards such as Donovan Mitchell or Demar Derozan, big men such as Giannis Anteteokunmpo or Victor Wembenyama, he always makes life tough for his opponent while also providing help wherever it is needed. Anunoby can seamlessly switch most actions that offenses try to run, he has been very adept at helping out in the gaps and recovering to his man, when a man tries to isolate him it does not go well, OG Anunoby is quite simply one of the best defenders in the world and that has remained true throughout this season as well.
While his assisted offense is great for the team and very important, once again, OG is showing the flashes of on ball creation that make the idea of him initiating more actions intriguing. Anunoby is one of the strongest players in the NBA and occasionally he puts his strength on display on offense. More post ups for Anunoby, some more empty side actions, would be enough for him to be able to spread his creating wings and perhaps allow for more easy looks. This is tough in theory because the spacing Anunoby provides is important for the other players in Toronto’s offense but still, Anunoby deserves the leeway on offense to try more creative stuff out.
Anunoby is slated to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and surely he will be able to get the contract he desires seeing as he is one of the most important players on this roster and the glue that truly holds everything together. Without Anunoby, Toronto would be in a worse place and as long as he continues his excellence, he will be a part of Toronto’s future for a long time.