With the standard line after drafting just about any player, Raptors president Masai Ujiri was upbeat and surprised a player like OG Anunoby was available when he was drafted with the 23rd pick. We’ve heard this before, but does it mean he’ll be betting on Anunoby for next season?
“If he doesn’t have that injury, I don’t think we have a shot (at Anunoby),” Ujiri said immediately after the draft. “We liked him. We really liked him. We just feel lucky.
“He’s a player we feel has to develop, but I think will develop quickly. He’s already a top defender type player.
“I don’t know what the timeline (is), especially with injury. It’s tough to say when he can break thru (to the rotation.)”
As reported by CBS Sports Matt Norlander, Anunoby was a projected top 15 pick at the start of his sophomore college season and when he injured his ACL in January, he was averaging 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks, so the 6’8 combo forward with the 7’2 wingspan was on his way to the draft lottery and did receive a Green Room invite.
Since his breakout performance in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, Anunoby has been projected as a future first-round NBA pick.
In October, he was seen as a top-15 pick in a loaded draft.
8 Points 9 Seconds Luke Parrish, also saw a future star in Anunoby,
Before an ACL injury in January, OG Anunoby looked like the next NBA star in the making. He has incredible size and length, along with superior athleticism.
Not only is Anunoby freakishly long, but he’s also freakishly athletic.
I’m not saying he is going to be as good as the Spurs’ star (Kawhi Leonard), but he has a similar game. Both guys are long and defensive-minded. When Kawhi came in to the league, he did not have a very good jump shot, much like Anunoby.
Draft Express Jonathan Givony lays out exactly what the Raptors hope they’ve found,
Anunoby has an elite physical profile for a NBA combo forward, standing 6’8 in shoes, with a chiseled frame and a reported 7’6 wingspan that will easily allow him to play power forward or even spend time at the center position in smaller lineups. He moves like a wing, being light on his feet and capable of playing above the rim impressively in space, as he demonstrated with a number of powerful highlight-reel caliber finishes over the past two years.
However, the big question is, when will Anunoby be ready for full contact practice and games?
“My rehab? I’m two months ahead of schedule right now,” Anunoby said after the draft. ” I’m starting to do a lot more on the court. I started running. I should be back full go October, November.”
Prior to the draft, Ujiri only got to see Anunoby workout twice and the workout was restricted to shooting. The Raptors had to rely on what they saw during the college season and the workout tapes they could get a hold of, but make no mistake, they liked what they saw.
“He’s a big time talent,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. “If it wasn’t for his injury he would have went higher.
“He is one of the top defenders available in the draft.”
Earlier indications are Anunoby has been working out at the Las Vegas Summer League even though there is no chance he’ll play. It’s possible he’s ready for training camp, but it’s equally possible he’s not ready to go until after Christmas.
However, make no mistake, Ujiri sees a big role for Anunoby this season. The Raptors view him as a talent they have to let play thru his mistakes because he’ll develop fast and they aren’t going to hold him back unless his knee isn’t 100 percent.
There is a chance the Raptors have drafted a future starting small forward and maybe, if he still has all of his pre-injury bounce and develops his three-point shot like Leonard did in San Antonio, there’s a chance he becomes a star.
Since it’s obvious Ujiri is planning on giving some of his young guys a chance to shine – Norman Powell, Delon Wright, and possibly Jakob Poeltl – it makes sense to see what he’s got in Anunoby as soon as the rookie’s ready.