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Mar 29, 2023 7:51 pm
By nearly any measure, this has been a sub-par season for the Toronto Raptors, even with a pathway into the postseason nonetheless on supply by way of the play-in event.
As a substitute of constructing on a powerful finish to the 2021/22 season and a good first-round playoff sequence in opposition to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Raptors have regressed, with the protection undersized and the offense too usually caught in mud.
However there have been brilliant spots alongside the best way. If Pascal Siakam, who made it to the All-Star Recreation (as an damage substitute), is on the high of that record, then O.G. Anunoby and his stellar two-way play aren’t far behind.
Hypothesis over Anunoby’s long-term future in Toronto has been rampant over the previous 12 months, peaking forward of the February commerce deadline, however it’s laborious to image this Raptors protection surviving with out his regular presence on the perimeter.
Averaging nearly 17 factors a recreation, and just below 40% on 3-pointers, Anunoby has been a key floor-spacer for Nick Nurse’s males – and his 29-point, eight-rebound effort in opposition to the Washington Wizards on Sunday was an ideal instance of his readiness to shoulder an even bigger burden offensively.
But it surely’s his skill to protect a number of positions and decelerate the league’s greatest scorers that units him aside from so many different wings within the NBA. He’s embraced a variety of assignments on that finish of the ground, from Nikola Jokic to Donovan Mitchell, whereas making a compelling case for the Defensive Participant of the 12 months poll.
Whereas he might not win it (the award has historically been dominated by energy forwards and centres), Anunoby’s tenacious protection has registered with a league-wide viewers. “He’s actually an all-defensive workforce participant in my thoughts, for positive, if not the winner of the award,” as Nurse stated earlier this month.
Anunoby was at it once more on Tuesday evening within the 106-92 win over the Miami Warmth, scoring 22 factors on 9-for-14 capturing to go along with his regular model of lockdown protection that units the tone for his team-mates.
“I’m studying from O.G.,” Valuable Achiuwa defined after the Warmth recreation. “He has actually, actually good arms, and the best way he assaults the ball on protection is likely one of the issues I’m attempting to choose up from him.”
“We want all these video games, and there’s a way of urgency,” Siakam added, because the Raptors sit up for their remaining six video games of the season. “There’s a number of issues that we are able to’t management so we’re simply specializing in us and ensuring that we’re on level.”
By means of the UK, as per the Raptors’ pre-game introductions, Anunoby continues to be solely 25 and all of the arrows are pointed upward as he tries to assist Toronto attain the postseason. Try worldinsport.com for extra NBA protection.