Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby was one of the unsung heroes of his team’s historic championship run last season. Averaging 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 0.7 steals, while also connecting on 1.0 three-pointers per contest on a 33.2-percent clip, the 6-foot-8 wingman’s production was not exactly of the standout variety. Nonetheless, Anunoby was a steady force off the Raptors bench, as he established himself as an crucial part of Toronto’s second unit.
Entering his third season in the league this term, more than a few folks believe that Anunoby is primed for a breakout season. The Raptors will be fielding a new-look side this campaign, and for his part, Anunoby might just be one of the biggest benefactors of what has been a whirlwind of an offseason for Toronto.
For starters, there is no doubt that Anunoby’s role on the squad will see a significant increase this season. The biggest reason behind this is none other than the departure of reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Last season, Anunoby settled for a bench role behind the former San Antonio Spurs superstar, and with Kawhi now out of the picture, OG is looking like a lock to secure the starting three spot for himself.
Newcomers Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson — two guys who arrived in the offseason via free agency — will be Anunoby’s primary competition for the starting small forward spot, and at this point, it appears that the starting gig is Anunoby’s to lose. It would be surprising if head coach Nick Nurse opts to start the season with Anunoby coming off the bench, so all things are pointing to the fact that Anunoby will see a much larger role for Toronto this season.
Aside from Leonard, the Raptors also parted ways with Danny Green this summer. This presents another amazing opportunity for Anunoby, who is primed to take on the team’s primary 3-and-D wingman. We all know how capable he is on the defensive end, so this is something he already has going for him. His 7-foot-3 wingspan, lateral quickness, and outstanding basketball IQ provide him with more than enough tools to excel as a great on-ball defender for the Raptors.
In terms of his three-point shooting, however, this is something Anunoby will need to improve on. It is worth noting that his accuracy from distance dropped in his sophomore year (33.2 percent) as compared to his rookie campaign (37.1 percent), but his output remained exactly the same (1.0 three-pointers). Anunoby will almost certainly be hoisting more attempts from deep this season (he averaged 3.0 attempts last year), so he will need to be more efficient. His outside shooting will be very important for the Raptors, as he hopes to stretch the floor for the rest of his team.
Don’t expect Anunoby to have a Pascal Siakam-like breakout year. He won’t be in contention for this season’s Most Improved Player of the Year award, but he definitely has the potential to raise some eyebrows with his improvements this season. needless to say, Anunoby’s play will be crucial to Toronto’s upcoming title defense.