3 Raptors players who could contend for NBA Honors in 2022

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 09: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 09: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
1 of 3
Toronto Raptors, OG Anunoby
TORONTO, ON – DECEMBER 31: OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors went from a forgettable squad at the bottom of the Eastern Conference to a team firmly in the postseason picture by starting off 2022 in such a torrid fashion. OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam are playing some of the best basketball of their career, and Scottie Barnes is continuing his Rookie of the Year chase.

The Raptors were shut out from any sort of All-NBA consideration last season, as a team that consistently ranked in the top half of the conference fell all the way to 11th in the conference. After one year outside of the postseason, Toronto has emphatically fought back into relevancy.

While most of the attention of late has been focused on the VanVleet All-Star push and Siakam playing like the All-NBA player we know he can be, the Raptors have several players on this roster that could end the year with a shiny new accolade courtesy of the media to add to their hypothetical mantlepiece.

If the Raptors continue to play with the same vigor they’ve shown in the last few weeks and continue to pile up wins, one of these three players could end up getting some league-wide recognition. If the record improves, their statistical greatness will be too impressive to ignore.

3 Toronto Raptors that might earn NBA Honors in 2021-22.

3. OG Anunoby: All-Defensive

While Anunoby has been making strides on the offensive end, he is still at his best when he can take on the opposing team’s best defender and lock them down on any given night. His unique blend of size, length, and speed make him one of the best on-ball defenders in the league.

Even on a Raptors team that is hammering home their switching philosophy, Anunoby is truly playing all five positions, getting looks as a traditional shooting guard and small ball center in the span of a few minutes. He’s even seen some reps as the primary ball-handler. As always, he’s defended well, averaging 1.6 steals per contest.

Toronto Raptors: OG Anunoby remains an elite defender.

Many of the same issues that plagued him last year might impact his candidacy for the All-Defensive team once again. Not only has he missed time due to injury, but the fact that he is on a team barely above .500 could make him less attractive to some.

The fact that traditional stats used to measure defensive acumen, like steals and blocks, aren’t in the top five certainly doesn’t help.

Anyone who turns on the tape and watches Anunoby with an analytical eye can see beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is one of the best defensive standouts this game has to offer. If the Raptors win enough to force the voters to take a closer look at his candidacy, Anunoby should win out over his contemporaries.