Toronto Raptors: OG Anunoby overcame obstacles for a rising stars bid

Toronto Raptors - OG Anunoby (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - OG Anunoby (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /

After being snubbed from the game last season, OG Anunoby has been selected to participate in the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge. He overcame obstacles others didn’t have to face.

Last year, OG Anunoby was robbed from the rising stars challenge. Drafted 23rd overall, to a non-glamour franchise, with a game that was based on efficiency rather than volume, he was the perfect snub candidate. The league agreed, and as a result, the Toronto Raptors rookie was left Team World’s roster.

This year, the league got it right. Anunoby was chosen as one of five sophomores to represent Team World. He will be the only Raptor participating in the game. In fact, he’s the only Raptor eligible to participate in the game. His addition to the team is quite an accomplishment considering many of the factors working against him both on and off the court.

On the court

Age & Experience

OG Anunoby is only 21 years-old. Compared to most players on Team World, that is incredibly young. Bogdan Bogdanovic is 26, Cedi Osman is 23, Ben Simmons is currently in his 8th season! (Technically third). Many foreign-born players have played in other professional leagues preparing them for the NBA. OG Anunoby had half a college season.


This is the one-in-a-million situation where playing for a competent organization hurts you as a player. Most talented young players are given the keys to the car. They’re allowed to learn from their mistakes and stretch their capabilities on the court.

OG hasn’t been afforded that luxury. Toronto needs to win games now, and rather than allowing OG to test his offensive skill-set, they’ve put him at a role that is best for the team.

Whether that is good for his long-term development is up for debate. However, it certainly negatively impacts his ability to earn accolades as a young player. While other players are given 30+ minutes a night, Anunoby is forced to earn his time.

Off the court

OG Anunoby’s father passed away in late September, right as the team reported for camp. As a result, OG missed the Raptors first three preseason games. In his absence and at the start of the season, Siakam shined. The battle for power forward was decided before it even started.

With Siakam’s great play, it’s easy to believe he was always going to be a starter. However, at the beginning of the season, many believed — myself included — that the role was OG Anunoby’s to lose. To not even compete for the role due to the death of a loved one, would be extremely difficult.

Just last week, Anunoby missed a stretch of games due to personal reasons. The death of a parent doesn’t just impact you for weeks. It impacts you for the rest of your life. To deal with that at 21 isn’t fair. Anunoby has dealt with it all season.

Making it now

The game itself is meaningless. Dirk Nowitzki and Kyrie Irving are coaching. It might mean less than the celebrity game. — As an aside, can we please stop having former NBA players and current WNBA players in the All-Star game. They’re professionals! matching up against Nelly and Justin Bieber. — However, it does represent a status he has reached within his first two years in the league, and while no one will remember his performance two years from now, it does give him the opportunity to play on a national stage.

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OG Anunoby should enjoy his Rising Stars bid. He’s certainly earned it.