The Toronto Raptors may not have left TD Garden with a victory against the Boston Celtics, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be encouraged by some of the performances they saw in that game. OG Anunoby continued his upward ascension as a scorer, as he and Fred VanVleet helped keep Toronto in this game.
VanVleet may have led the team in scoring thanks to a solid night from beyond the 3-point line, but Anunoby carried over his momentum from the two 76ers games, scoring 17 on 6-14 shooting and 3-8 from deep. We haven’t seen OG be this assertive on the offensive end before.
Anunoby has not only been impressing fans and casual observers alike with what he’s been doing on offense, but he’s impressed his own teammates. With Pascal Siakam on the mend thanks to an injury, VanVleet appears more than ready to lean on No. 3 as the Raptors look for stability.
In a postgame quote, VanVleet claimed that Anunoby is “our number one option right now.” This sounds like the Raptors are willing and able to defer to Anunoby and let his newfound ability to create for himself on offense carry them through their Siakam-less hardships.
The Toronto Raptors will lean on OG Anunoby.
Anunoby averaged 15.9 points per game last year, and while that was a sizeable jump from the prior season, Toronto will likely require him to make one more leap in order to replace the scoring that was vacated when Kyle Lowry left town. He looks more than ready to make that move based on what we’ve seen in the preseason.
His handle is much improved, his stepback game is lethal, and he’s shown a willingness to take it to the rim. We knew that he could score as a spot-up shooter considering he shot nearly 40% from 3-point range, but now that he’s putting the ball on the floor and hitting more contested shots, the evolution into an all-around star is getting more pronounced.
While preseason production can be a bit misleading, it’s good to see Anunoby opening his bag and bringing out his full arsenal of tricks. If VanVleet continues to make 3-pointers at the same clip he did against Boston, the offense should function well without Siakam and Chris Boucher.
One of the problems with the Raptors over the first few preseason games has been just how streaky they have been on the offensive end. If they want to be more consistent, they need to trust in Anunoby’s offensive breakout and allow him to lead the unit on that end of the floor.