If the Toronto Raptors can take anything positive away from the 2020-21 season, it’s the fact that OG Anunoby has continued his upward ascension and has become one of the game’s premier two-way forwards.
After coming into the league as a defensive stopper out of Indiana that needed to work on becoming a consistent threat with the ball in his hands, Anunoby started to show signs that he was turning a corner last year, as he posted career-high scoring averages. This year, however, he really stepped on the accelerator.
Anunoby averaged 15.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, all while making 48% of his shots and 39.8% of his 3-point attempts. His 1.5 steals are just one of several stats that prove he hasn’t sacrificed one iota of defensive skill in order to grow in this fashion on the offensive end.
Anunoby might not get the publicity he deserves outside of Toronto, but the numbers show that even in a very chaotic situation, his ability to check the opponent’s best player and hit timely shots on the other end is by no means flukish, and that could help.
OG Anunoby started to evolve into a star for the Toronto Raptors.
Per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required), the Raptors score 2.7 points more per 100 possessions when Anunoby is on the floor, and they allow 5.1 fewer points in that same timeframe. This gives some tangibility to all of the assertions of Anunoby’s impact when he’s in the game.
Anunoby is the most versatile defender in the game, guarding every position at least 17% of the time but no more than 26% of the time, per B-Ball Index (subscription required). Playing somewhat out of position as a power forward for large chunks of the season, Anunoby handled the role with aplomb.
Anunoby did miss some time due to the COVID-19 problems that crippled this team, and injuries might’ve limited him to just 43 games, but some minor durability concerns in a year that saw Murphy’s Law completely ruin the Raptors won’t exactly serve as a big red F and a “see me” note on Anunoby’s test.
Anybody has moved from an intriguing player and a plus defense into an elite defender and verifiable offensive threat when one examines how much he has improved his 3-point shooting and ability to create offense for himself.
Anunoby signed an extension with Toronto, and that contract is looking better for the Raptors with each passing day. If Toronto turns their record around next year, and Anunoby’s improved skills are unveiled for the greater NBA media as a whole, he could start to get the publicity his play warrants.