OG Anunoby’s development will be critical to Toronto Raptors’ future

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With Kawhi Leonard is gone, it’s time for the Toronto Raptors to turn to the future. That future is OG Anunoby, a player who has all the tools and will be given every opportunity to step up this season.

The Toronto Raptors open training camp in less than a month. One of the major storylines to watch is OG Anunoby. After a tumultuous regular season, Anunoby enters this upcoming season as somewhat of a forgotten man.

Last year, Anunoby sat out 15 regular season games and the entire playoffs due to a variety of health issues. He missed time with a wrist sprain, concussion-like symptoms, and an emergency appendectomy. But with Kawhi Leonard’s decision to head to Los Angeles, there is a spot open in the starting lineup.

When the Raptors acquired Leonard, fans were shocked that Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster were able to make the move without giving up Anunoby or Pascal Siakam. The two forwards were viewed as the team’s best assets. At the time, Anunoby was regarded as the better prospect than Siakam.

Anunoby has great size for the small forward position. He measured 6-foot-7.75 (in shoes) with a 7-foot-2.25 wingspan. Anunoby is strong and provides the positional versatility that teams look for in a modern wing. He was projected as a lottery pick before undergoing season-ending surgery while at Indiana.

Anunoby slipped to no. 23 in the draft due to questions about whether he would be ready for the start of the regular season. After meeting Anunoby and reviewing his medicals, the Raptors decided he was worth the risk.

As a rookie, Anunoby wasn’t ready for the start of training camp. But Anunoby was able to lace them up for the Raptors’ final two preseason games and was completely healthy for the start of the regular season.

By November 14, Anunoby had entered the starting lineup and he never looked back. Anunoby started 62 games as a rookie, averaging a modest 5.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.

One of the major criticisms of Dwane Casey was his unwillingness to alter the rotation in response to matchups. This changed after Nick Nurse took over as the Raptors’ head coach. Nurse planned to alternate who would start at either frontcourt position, depending on that night’s opponents. Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas each saw time in the starting lineup.

The same was supposed to be true for Anunoby and Siakam. However, Siakam blossomed into a star during his third season. With he and Kawhi Leonard commanding the two starting spots, OG was relegated to a bench role. Despite OG”s off-year, fans should not forget about Anunoby.