OG Anunoby was selected 23rd by the Raptors in the 2017 NBA draft. He kind of reminds me of Andre Roberson in a good way. Both are good long defensive players. Anunoby is recovering from a knee injury that forced his second collegiate season to end only after 16 games. Small forward, OG Anunoby was projected to go in the back end of the lottery by most experts a month ago (top 14). It would appear some teams got scared off due to his injury. Anunoby is expected to begin basketball activities around when the NBA season starts. He likely won’t be ready to play then as it will take him time to work himself into shape make sure there are no setbacks. Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports reported Anunoby is hoping to return to full strength by late November or early December. So, it’s easy to assume OG Anunoby will not play in summer league, participate in training camp or preseason.
OG Anunoby's NCAA stats:
Does Drafting OG Anunoby Change the Raptors Free Agents Plans?
The Raptors currently have four free agents in Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, PJ Tucker, and Patrick Patterson. The Anunoby pick likely doesn’t change the Raptors plans on Kyle Lowry or Serge Ibaka. Dwane Casey called Anunoby a PJ Tucker clone in his press conference after the pick. This could be bad news for PJ Tucker fans.
Tucker is coming off a contract that paid him $5.3M last year. At that price tag, he is a tremendous value in the NBA for his defensive abilities. However, Tucker is likely going to see offers for more than double that money this summer with multiple suitors. The Raptors could be facing a massive luxury tax bill this summer if they bring back Lowry and Ibaka. Masai will have to find ways to shed salary. Tucker may be a casualty of this. PJ Tucker is 32 and if his replacement is already on the roster (OG Anunoby) Tucker may not be a massive loss for the Raptors long-term. A healthy Anunoby brings a lot of same defensive characteristics as Tucker but doesn’t have Tucker’s corner three yet. However, at 6’8 Anunoby is a full two inches taller than Tucker which may allow him to guard power forwards better than Tucker. One would assume OG will primarily be playing SF, but having the ability to guard PF as well gives Anunoby versatility especially on switches.
Patrick Patterson is a free agent who the Raptors may need to re-sign. After a down season, the Raptors hopefully will be able to keep him for a reasonable price. Anunoby provides little to no shooting on the offensive side of the ball so pairing him with a guy like Patrick Patterson who can space the floor makes some sense. And with the Raptors not having much cap space (possibly none) to go out and get someone else’s free agent it may make sense to use Patterson’s bird rights. This would allow them to keep a role player in Patterson rather than find a minimum guy that is likely to provide little to no impact.
How Will Anunoby Mesh with DeRozan?
DeRozan likes playing with the ball in his hands. OG is a good at attacking the basket and running the floor in transition. Where Anunoby will help DeRozan the most is on defense. OG is terrific at closing out on three-point shooters. Something the Raptors had a lot of trouble with this season. It’s not secret DeRozan isn’t a good defender and with the NBA becoming a three-point happy league the Raptors will need someone to defend against it. That someone could very well be OG Anunoby. Even though I think Anunoby could be a good fit with DeRozan he won’t be a perfect fit because he nor DeRozan can hit threes. That will certainly be an issue for the Raptors again this coming season, but it was impossible to fix all the Raptors flaws with the 23rd pick. With Anunoby, once healthy, they get a guy who can fill in at that backup SF position and play spot minutes at PF if needed.
What Does This Mean for Norman Powell?
Norman Powell's stats as a starter this season:
Norman Powell should be the Raptors starting SF this coming season as well as play some backup SG minutes. He was awesome this season when he started and played alongside DeMar DeRozan. Furthermore, DeMarre Carroll provided enough evidence that he is not a viable starter on the Toronto Raptors. So Dwane Casey will have no reason not to give Powell all the minutes he can handle this season. OG Anunoby isn’t a threat to steal significant minutes in his rookie season. When Anunoby is fully up to speed after and has worked himself into the rotation maybe he can carve out 10-15 minutes per game after the all-star break.
Masai addressed a need at SF with OG Anunoby, but there are certainly more moves to come. What will the Raptors next move be this offseason?