Toronto Raptors: What’s the next step for OG Anunoby after breakout postseason?

Though the 2020 NBA postseason didn’t end the way the Toronto Raptors and their fans hoped it would, there were some bright spots to take away from the ‘bubble’ experience.  Perhaps no Raptors player shined brighter than OG Anunoby.

After the Toronto Raptors coasted through a first-round sweep,  OG Anunoby officially put himself on everyone’s radar in the second round.  Obviously, there was the incredible season-saving buzzer-beater in Game Three, but it was much more than that.

 His defensive performance while guarding virtually every position throughout the playoffs was outstanding.  He calmly hit big shot after big shot, like the straight on 3 pointers in Game Six, that once again saved the Raptors’ season for the time being.

Anunoby’s breakout performance has clearly put the rest of the league on notice.  Shortly after the postseason ended he made an agent change, moving over to the infamous Klutch Sports.

The numbers might not jump out at you, but his impact on the court was unmeasurable.  Ask anyone who watched the series against Boston, and they’d most likely say he was the team’s second most important player, behind Kyle Lowry.

One can’t help but see a comparison to a young Kawhi Leonard, ironically, the man whom he replaced in the lineup this season.

Let’s get one thing straight, OG Anunoby is not Kawhi Leonard, and it would be unfair to put that kind of expectation on him moving forward.  But in just his second postseason, his play was eerily reminiscent of Leonard’s 2013 postseason, when San Antonio lost in the NBA finals to the Miami Heat.  A defensive juggernaut with a knockdown three-point shot, who hasn’t yet grown into a playmaker with elite ball-handling skills.  Comparing the two players’ numbers from each postseason is eye-opening:

  • Kawhi Leonard – 2013 postseason per game stats (2nd season)

13.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 39% 3fg

  • OG Anunoby – 2020 postseason per game stats (3rd season)

10.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 41% 3fg

Keep in mind, 2013 was the season before Leonard began to blossom as an offensive player.  He went on to win the 2014 Finals MVP the very next season and turned into a perennial superstar.

Looking at OG’s numbers just in the second round against Boston, you can really see the similarities, and how special OG’s performance really was:

  • OG Anunoby -2020  second round stats vs Boston

11.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 0.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 46.4% 3fg

As previously mentioned, it would be unfair to expect Anunoby to turn into an MVP candidate at the snap of the finger, but Toronto should certainly be encouraged by his play this postseason.

With Fred VanVleet potentially signing elsewhere, and an utter disaster of a showing by Pascal Siakam (the supposed franchise cornerstone), Anunoby is primed to take on a much larger roll in the Toronto Raptors offense next year.

Next: Should the Toronto Raptors pursue a trade for Joel Embiid?

Whether he improves his one-on-one game and playmaking and ascends into stardom as Leonard did, remains to be seen.  From what he’s showed so far though, he just might be on the right track.