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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 through the play-in match.
Instead of constructing on a robust finish to the 2021/22 season and a decent first-round playoff sequence in opposition to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Raptors have regressed, with the protection undersized and the offense too typically caught in mud.
However there have been shiny spots alongside the best way. If Pascal Siakam, who made it to the All-Star Sport (as an harm alternative), is on the prime 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, nevertheless it’s arduous to image this Raptors protection surviving with out his regular presence on the perimeter.
Averaging nearly 17 factors a sport, and slightly 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 capacity to protect a number of positions and decelerate the league’s finest 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 Player of the 12 months poll.
Whereas he could 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 certainly an all-defensive team player in my mind, for sure, 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 taking pictures to go along with his traditional model of lockdown protection that units the tone for his team-mates.
“I’m learning from O.G.,” Treasured Achiuwa defined after the Warmth sport. “He has really, really good hands, and the way he attacks the ball on defense is one of the things I’m trying to pick up from him.”
“We need all these games, and there’s a sense of urgency,” Siakam added, because the Raptors sit up for their ultimate six video games of the season. “There’s a lot of things that we can’t control so we’re just focusing on us and making sure that we’re on point.”
By means of the UK, as per the Raptors’ pre-game introductions, Anunoby remains to be solely 25 and all of the arrows are pointed upward as he tries to assist Toronto attain the postseason. Take a look at worldinsport.com for extra NBA protection.
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