The Toronto Raptors are currently in the 12th spot in the Eastern Conference looking to make it into the play-in for a potential playoff appearance. However, the inconsistent lineups night in and night out are hurting their chances. The most reliable player in the final stretch of the season has been OG Anunoby.
In fact, he is showing signs of stardom similar to former Raptor Kawhi Leonard.
When the Raptors acquired Leonard a couple of years back for DeMar DeRozan, they knew what they were getting; a hard-nosed defensive player with an offensive arsenal to push any team over the top and into the championship conversation. The result was exactly that, Toronto captured their first NBA championship in franchise history with Leonard as the superstar player.
Meanwhile, Anunoby was only in his second NBA season when the Raptors won their championship. He was part of a rotation that brought defense into the lineup and would spot up for three now and then. He averaged seven points on 45% shooting in 20 minutes a game.
Fast-forward to today, and his potential is just starting to show. The offense looks promising, and the defense remains excellent.
Toronto Raptors: How do Kawhi Leonard and OG Anunoby compare?
For comparison, Kawhi and OG have similar numbers in just their fourth year in the league. The Klaw in year four was averaging 16.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.3 steals per game on 48/35/80 shooting splits.
So far this year OG is averaging 15.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and1.5 steals on 48/40/78 shooting splits. The numbers are eerily comparable and the potential is definitely there to suggest that he might be closer to Kawhi than people imagine.
Leonard made a name for himself in his fourth year, when he won Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP. For OG, he is still looking for a way to become a household name and a franchise player, as the Raptors are not contending for a Championship with the current roster. Understandably, the comparisons might halt there but the circumstances were far different.
The Spurs allowed for Kawhi to develop as they still had the core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili to rely on. For OG, he needed to develop far quicker for the Raptors to remain relevant and a playoff team. Basically, the accolades will not match right now, but the gameplay is what makes them alike.
OG Anunoby Is showing progress.
The mild manner of both OG and Kawhi and their defense is what they are most known for. The offense is still in progress for OG. Regardless, other Raptors players are taking notice of how productive OG is and in particular Fred VanVleet who attributes his results to an unmatched work ethic.
The more recent NBA DPOY ladder had Anunoby just outside the top five for his efforts this season so far. That is a small win for a franchise that is looking for ways to bounce back and prepare for next year.
In regards to the offense, OG has been the most consistent Raptor of late, averaging 23.6 points on 54% shooting in the last five games. With more touches, he will be able to showcase his skills and efficiency in due time.
Being a top-tier two-way player in the league is a difficult feat to accomplish. Nonetheless, if there is one player that is showing signs of becoming a superstar player of the same caliber as Leonard, it is definitely OG. He has the same drive on defense and is willing to put the work in on offense to develop his game to the next level.
It might have been that one year they spent together that might have rubbed off on him to realize his potential. The Toronto Raptors are in good hands looking forward and have a superstar in the making that will ask fans to be patient to see the results.