The Toronto Raptors have been linked to moves that would be nothing short of earth-shattering, with a move for Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons gaining some major headway over the last few weeks. While Simmons and his agent may want a fresh start, it shouldn’t come at the cost of players like Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby.
The Raptors recently turn down a deal from 76ers mastermind Daryl Morey that is almost impossible to justify. After reportedly asking for four first-round picks, three picks swaps AND a young player from the Spurs, Philly tried to acquire Kyle Lowry (via sign-and-trade), VanVleet, Anunoby, and the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Naturally, Toronto turned it down.
While the club shouldn’t totally shut the door on looking for a superstar, they should make Anunoby completely unavailable in trade talks, especially if they’re targeting a player like Simmons.
Anunoby, fresh off a career-high 15.9 points per game average that showed his improvement on the offensive side of the ball, is one of the best young forwards in the game, and trading him for Simmons would be an oversight of the highest order.
The Toronto Raptors need to hold on to OG Anunoby.
Simmons is a complete work in progress on the offensive side of the ball, meaning that the only reason that the Raptors should consider giving up all of this capital for Simmons is due to his ability to defend and distribute and the hope that he can be turned into a willing, effective shooter. That becomes redundant if you trade away an elite defensive player like Anunoby.
Anunoby guarded every position at least 15% of the time on defense, signed a multi-year contract that doesn’t even approach what Simmons’ ridiculous five-year, $177 million deal, and has made massive improvements on both ends, while Simmons has completely stagnated on offense.
In fact, Anunoby outscored Simmons last year, even though he had Lowry, VanVleet, and Pascal Siakam taking shots away from him. A Lowry sign-and-trade could be an avenue that Toronto could go down, and giving away draft capital could sweeten the deal. Anunoby, however, should be totally off-limits.
With Lowry potentially on the move, Anunoby had all the tools needed to become a primary defensive stopper and tertiary scoring option. Including him in a Simmons deal would entail sacrificing tons of draft picks to add ANOTHER primary defensive stopper and tertiary scoring option, all while taking on an even bigger financial burden.
Anunoby has a bright future in Nick Nurse’s system, while Simmons is the definition of a depreciating asset. OG is already on a similar plane on the offensive end, so his development shouldn’t be abandoned.