The case for signing OG to a new deal
Anunoby was originally projected to be a lottery pick. He underwent season ending knee surgery during his sophomore year at Indiana. Anunoby saw his draft stock plummet due to concerns about when he would be able to return to the court. The Raptors selected him at no. 23 overall. Meanwhile, Anunoby’s rehabilitation went better than anticipated and he was able to suit up on opening night.
Anunoby started 62 games as a rookie. Expectations were high entering year two. A lot has been written about Siakam’s breakout campaign last season and his Most Improved Player award. However, before the season started Anunoby was viewed as the most promising young prospect on the roster.
It is still shocking that Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster were able to make a trade for Kawhi Leonard without having to give up either Anunoby or Siakam.
Unfortunately, Anunoby struggled to stay on the court during the Raptors’ championship run. He suffered a concussion early in the season. Anunoby’s father passed away. Finally, Anunoby underwent an emergency appendectomy and missed the playoffs.
With Leonard gone, Anunoby was able to step back into the starting lineup. He didn’t have the breakout season that many fans were hoping for. But Anunoby has shown improvement in all aspects of his game.
This season Anunoby is averaging 10.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. He is playing a career-high 30 minutes per night. Anunoby is also knocking down 38 percent of his triples.
Those numbers don’t tell the whole story. At just 22 years old, Anunoby has shown flashes of becoming an All NBA level defender. He was starting to put it all together when the season was suspended. During the final seven games between late February and early March, Anunoby averaged 14.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game.
Anunoby has tremendous size for his position. He measured 6-foot-7.75 (in shoes) at the draft combine. Anunoby also has a massive 7-foot-2.25 wingspan. Anunoby’s size and length, plus his chiseled 232 pound frame, allows him to guard multiple positions.
The Toronto Raptors have the second-best defensive rating in the NBA trailing only the Milwaukee Bucks. Anunoby is routinely tasked with guarding the opposing team’s top perimeter player. He has to regularly match up with power wings like Leonard, LeBron James, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler.
Anunoby is able to hold his own against the league’s best. He is also great at getting into passing lanes and causing deflections. Anunoby recorded three or more steals 11 times this season. He had a career-high seven steals in a loss to the Denver Nuggets on March 1.
A frontcourt pairing of Anunoby and Siakam should give the Raptors two of the best defensive forwards in the entire NBA. They are also both just entering their prime. Siakam is locked up for the next four seasons. It makes sense that the Raptors would want to do the same with Anunoby. The price just has to be right.
A few years ago, the Washington Wizards rewarded Otto Porter Jr. with a four-year, $106 million contract extension. This was after he averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. At just 23 years old, Porter looked like the perfect complement to John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Porter is a strong two-way player. He is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA. But paying more than $25 million annually for a player who has problems creating offense for himself and others is a lot. This is why the Wizards traded Porter to the Bulls before last season’s trade deadline.
If the Raptors are able to lock up Anunoby to a new contract starting at around $15 million annually, it might make sense to do so. Looking at similar contracts around the league, that’s the price to keep a versatile wing player.
Two years ago, Winslow signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Heat. Prince signed a two-year, $29 million contract with the Nets. Kelly Oubre Jr. also agreed to a two-year, $30 million contract with the Phoenix Suns. The promise that Anunoby has shown should put him in a similar category. Those contracts would be a reasonable baseline for negotiations.
However, the problem with signing Anunoby to a new deal now is it could impact what the Raptors are able to do long-term.