Is OG Anunoby the key to the Toronto Raptors’ success?

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 14: OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 14: OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Throughout the season, the Toronto Raptors have experienced several injuries to key players in their rotation, with OG Anunoby getting bit by the injury bug multiple times. During his fifth season in the NBA, Anunoby has dealt with a wide variety of injuries/ailments, most recently a fractured finger.

This injury has kept Anunoby out of the Raptors lineup since returning from the All-Star break. With reports he will remain sidelined a minimum of two more weeks before reevaluation, the Raptors are desperate to make up for his missed production.

The Raptors have struggled without the versatile 3-and-D wing in their rotation. If there’s ever been a doubt about Anunoby’s impact for the Raptors, a post-break slump that featured losses to teams like the Magic and Pistons shows that OG is borderline irreplaceable.

Given Toronto’s difficulty finding on-court success without him, is it fair to say that Anunoby is actually the key to the Raptors’ success? The numbers without him on the court are startling.

The Toronto Raptors have struggled without OG Anunoby.

In games played this season without Anunoby in the Raptors lineup, they sport a mediocre 8-13 record. While that is not a glaringly negative stat, the winning percentage is far below their season record with Anunoby playing (26-16). Over the last two seasons, Toronto is 17-31 without OG.

When looking at the competition they were able to get these eight wins over in that stretch, the only win over a healthy playoff squad came from an early-season victory over the Grizzlies. With the Raptors struggling to keep their heads above the water without Anunoby, it is clear his value towards winning is immeasurable for his team.

This injury couldn’t come at a worse time, as the Raptors continue to push into the playoffs with the hopes of claiming a seed outside the play-in tournament. With Anunoby out of the lineup, the Raptors could see themselves slide down the standings and end up with a far more difficult road to the playoffs.

One of four remaining players from the Raptors 2019 Championship roster, Anunoby is well-versed in the game plan while being ingrained in the team’s culture. With a tremendous defensive skillset coupled with freak athleticism, Anunoby is the perfect fit in Nick Nurse’s system.

Nurse has continued to rely on Anunoby all season long, playing the 24-year-old just over 36 minutes per game. Without Anunoby, more pressure is applied to the young and unproven members of an already razor-thin bench. Quite frankly, this collection of replacements can’t hold a candle to Anunoby’s production.

Not only will Nurse miss having Anunoby to run with, but his teammates will suffer in his absence as well. OG has built fantastic chemistry with All-Star Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. Without Anunoby to work off of, we could see a dip in their production as well.

Advanced stats show was OG Anunoby means to the Toronto Raptors.

Let’s break down the numbers. With career highs in points, assists, and rebounds per game, Anunoby has continued to work on his game and expand his offensive repertoire each season.

With a +2.4 on/off court rating, his impact on the game is enough to make a winning difference on both ends of the court for the Raptors. Anunoby’s two-way style of play has made him a vital piece of the Raptors ever since his rookie season, and his importance for this franchise only continues to grow.

Only time will tell how long Anunoby will be out for and what kind of possible rehabilitation process he will require before reaching 100%. What we do know for now is that Toronto is in desperate need of his return so that they can have a fighting chance once playoffs roll around.

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