Anunoby had not one, but two noteworthy plays off the dribble that really display the improvement in his dribbling.
The first came in the opening quarter where OG took advantage of an obvious mismatch with Zach Collins and finished strong at the rim with contact.
Anunoby later abused Mario Hezonja with a couple of crossovers before kicking it out and getting a hockey assist on a Terence Davis 3.
More creation and handling from OG Anunoby. Legitimately functional handle: pic.twitter.com/z0fctE15ae
– Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) July 26, 2020
OG’s playmaking has greatly improved this season. We’ve seen throughout the year that he’s been able to get into the teeth of the defence and find open teammates, but a lot of Anunoby’s drive and kicks this year have come against defences that are already scrambling. The two highlights above were against set defences midway through the shot clock.
If Anunoby’s handle is truly improved, he becomes not only another playmaker but a ball-handler against set defences. Having another player who can create his own shot is something the Raptors desperately need heading into the playoffs.
The list of players who can consistently get their own looks against defences is short for Toronto: Pascal Siakam – that’s it, and the stats back it up. According to NBA Stats, Siakam averages 4.4 isolation possessions per game. No other Raptor averages more than 1.4. Norman Powell, who many would also put in the class of players who can get their own look, averages 0.4 iso’s per game this season. Maybe it’s a trust factor between Nurse and the others but Toronto can’t expect Siakam to bail them out of every tough situation.
This is why Anunoby’s improved handle should be a welcomed sight for Raptors fans.
Anunoby hasn’t much an iso scorer this season. In fact, he’s been dreadful and more prone to turning the rock over than to score, according to NBA Stats. OG is in the fifth percentile and his 43.8% turnover frequency leads the NBA. That very well may have to do with his handle not being up to par or a lack of confidence with the dribble.
Anunoby has all the tools to be a better-than-average iso scorer. He has great size, strength and the threat of a solid jumper but his handle has been holding him back.
If OG can continue to use a functional dribble to not only create for others but himself as well, it may give the Raptors another weapon to use in their hopes for a deep playoff run.
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