Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby is already elite at his position and role but there are some skills he can develop to get his game to the next level. Full podcast is available on the 'Raptors Over Everything'' podcast feed.
- OG with A power move over top Jimmy Butler.
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah. I mean, the biggest thing is probably his handle. I say this for almost everybody.
AMIT MANN: Because it's true on the Raptors.
ERIC KOREEN: I mean, mean, for the Raptors, it's always, who can handle and who can shoot? Like, just do those two things. But OG is obviously pretty good in terms of being able to shoot when his finger isn't torn apart-- or broken, I should say. But if he's able to handle-- the Raptors don't do a ton of pick and roll, but if he's able to eat up some of those pick and roll possessions as a handler more often than a screener, like, I think that makes the Raptors more dangerous, but it also is probably the biggest thing that's keeping his individual usage down is, like, he's not really that guy who is handling in those situations.
They use Siakam or they use VanVleet. Barnes isn't really there yet. But, I mean, that would be at the top of my list for Scottie Barnes too is all of a sudden, you have another guy who's an average to above average pick and roll handler, that goes a long way to making them less predictable and, therefore, more dangerous. Because I don't think right now-- and, you know, Scottie Barnes can prove me wrong-- but, like, right now, this isn't a team that's heading toward 30% usage for any single player.
This is going to be a by-committee offense. And you just don't want it to necessarily be as isolation dependent and mismatch dependent-- even though the playoffs often play out like that-- as it sometimes was during the season. So I think that's one thing. The other thing-- and I don't know how much the injuries had to do with this-- I thought Anunoby had a, compared to expectations, a disappointing defensive year.
I think at his best, he still showed that he can be very, very good on that end. But he still hasn't put together that-- and, again, it goes along with the injuries. And if you're not playing 70 games, it's tough to create this reputation. But he hasn't put together that season where, OK, he's knocking in threes, he's scoring 15 points a game, and oh yeah, he's one of the-- he's, like, a no doubt in the all-defense conversation.
And he wasn't in the all-defense conversation this year. I don't think it was the most deserving Raptor to be in the all-defense conversation. And that's not only because of games played. Like, I think he was just not as strong and not as agile on that end. And that's not to still say-- like, he was good.
He's just not, like, consistently changing games good. And I think he can get there. I think he's shown in spurts that he is that guy. And so how do you improve that? Like, you get healthy, you do all of the agility work that you can possibly do-- and that's got to make for a boring day at the gym-- but, you know, OG is nothing if not strong and capable in that sense.
So those would be the two things. And I think it's pretty obvious how that fits into the Raptors big-- or how they want to play next season.
AMIT MANN: Yeah. And I think something Pascal Siakam I think struggled a little bit with when he took on this role as more of a number one option and his usage went through the roof and so forth is pacing yourself through an NBA game can be really difficult. And sometimes you just want to conserve your energy for the fourth quarter, because that's coming around the corner.
And with the Raptors play style, or at least this season where they were playing their starters 41 minutes, 42, 43-- it's like, maybe he's getting tired. Maybe he's trying to pace himself. There's, like, so many factors involved with this.
And then, yes, the injuries-- is his conditioning up to snuff because of entering the lineup, then going out, and then how do his thighs feel? Are they burning in the fourth quarter? Like, I'm sure these things were coming up for him. Everything you talked about, I absolutely agree with.
A person that I compare him with or I'd like actually OG to watch some film on, it would be Jimmy Butler. Now, I'm not saying that OG and Jimmy are the same kind of players or anything like that. Like, OG is 1 inch taller. They're a similar weight. But when I look at Jimmy, and you mentioned the handle-- and I look at Jimmy as a person who isn't necessarily going to cross you up, but he's very confident with the ball in his hands.
And he does everything with a very strong purpose. There's no wasted dribbles. He's always baiting you into something or luring you into something that he wants to do. And I found that OG sometimes, especially with this post game, he does a lot of unnecessarily dribbling and it's taxing on the body.
And just being a little bit more confident with his decision making and more decisive, I think, would really help him. And that's something that Jimmy, again, is so good at when it comes to his post game as well. Yeah, we can get into the post game in a second, but just your thoughts on the Jimmy Butler comparison.
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah, it makes sense-- not in that, again-- not in that they're built the exact same way, but they both, obviously, have that strength. And OG's strength, you know, for his size, he's got to be one of the stronger guys in the league. So you don't really need to be using a ton of deception in order-- you shouldn't necessarily need to use a ton of deception in order to get yourself open.
So to be more decisive, to be a bit more efficient when you do get the ball-- and beyond that, it's just also about getting the defense moving, right? Like, if you're spending time dribbling, the defense is stationary and set. And you don't want-- not every offense is going to be the point-five Spurs or anything like that.
But you don't always want the defense to be able to think, OK, the drive has come in here, and this is how we're going to react, and we know exactly which way we're pinballing if we're sending help. So yeah, a bit more decisiveness and a bit more confidence, like, not only in his handle, as I mentioned, but in his strength, because there aren't many guys who should be able to stop him from getting at least to a comfortable shot.
Maybe OG Anunoby wants a bit of a bigger role, and how can he get there-- well, these are some of the ways. And I think the point about Butler, but not even to name specific names-- but leveraging that power is definitely a good one.
AMIT MANN: There is this one other thing that I love about Jimmy Butler, and it's his post game-- the ways that he's able to create space and to find like little avenues to just get his shot off. Now, the jumping ability is something that's very different between the two players. But Jimmy is also a very strong human being.
And he has a way of using his strength to spin off his defender or to not create that contact where he's necessarily bully balling him, but he's able to lure them into ways where they're uncomfortable or he gets them on their heels, and then he's able to vault up. And with OG, his spin move, he likes to use that.
And it's a great move. I mean, nothing against spin moves, just make that very clear-- Pascal Siakam's is great, Jimmy Butler's is great, OG Anunoby's is great, but he gets off balance quite a bit. And I wonder if he has to do yoga or something like that, because--
ERIC KOREEN: I can't prescribe anybody yoga. It would be more hypocritical than most of the things I already say, which are hypocritical because I can't move. But you know, I think we've seen, especially the beginning of his career, balance was an issue when he was on the move.
It was like, oh, OG is driving in transition-- is he going to fall down? Like, is he going to be able to get a shot up? And, like, slowly, he's made progress there. But footwork in the post is a whole different thing.
And in some ways, you think it should be easier because you're not coming with that head of speed. But there's also far more physicality and far more bumping you're taking in that area.
AMIT MANN: Less space.
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah. And we've seen OG's calves, and he should be able to anchor himself pretty well. But it's a specific kind of balance. And with the right training, and the right mindset, and there's, again, no indication that he doesn't have the right priorities in terms of improving himself-- he'll get there, or he'll get as close as he can.
So I think OG is going to be fine.
AMIT MANN: He's going to be very good. Very good.
ERIC KOREEN: I remember talking about this with Zack Lowe-- like, does he make an all-star team in his career? Like, at the time, like, I bet no. I think I would still kind of hedge that way.
But, like, I think we're looking at a guy who can be a top between, like, the 30th and 50th best player in the league. And maybe that's underselling him, right? But I think, like, there's no reason he can't be beyond a good starter on a good team. There's no reason he can't be a very valuable piece.
I mean, shoot, he's already been a very valuable piece on a very good team-- could become a slightly bigger piece on a team that's just as good as the bubble Raptors were. Like, I totally believe that's possible, if not probable.
AMIT MANN: Yeah. OG is going to be fine, just like you said. It's very rare for a player to have his best stretch of the season at the beginning of the season, but that's kind of how it went for OG.