The Toronto Raptors may have retained the same starting lineup they had during last season’s playoff push, but there are some questions about how to utilize the five players in question best. Fred VanVleet and O.G. Anunoby stand at the front of that debate following how this offseason started.
Though Anunoby denied rumors of his dissatisfaction with his offensive role, the idea of figuring out how to get him more involved has to eat at Nick Nurse. Anunoby has improved his offensive production every year he’s been in the league, and he needs to avoid stagnating in such an important season.
VanVleet’s role last year was enough to push him to the All-Star Game, but it was not conducive to sustained success due to the burden Nurse put on him every night. In an attempt to alleviate the pressure on VanVleet and expand Anunoby’s role, Nurse has cooked up something so outrageous it comes back around to being smart.
Nurse said that VanVleet is going to play off-ball more than he did last year. Interestingly enough, Nurse mentioned Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and even Anunoby as potential candidates for bringing the ball up the floor. We’re two days into training camp, and we’re already getting O.G. as a point forward.
O.G. Anunoby might play PG for Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors.
VanVleet often played off-ball when he had to share the floor with Kyle Lowry early in his career, so this is not a completely foreign concept to him. This might be the best way for the master tinkerer Nurse to space the floor and get as many of his best shooters in good positions.
Anunoby averaged just 0.7 assists per game as a rookie, but he managed to bump that figure up to 2.6 per game last year. While that’s not amazing, it showed that he could gradually improve in that area despite lacking a tremendous handle. 3.0 assists per game might be a fair target to strive for.
Nurse has already proved his concept, as a rookie in Barnes and power forward in Siakam have executed his offense well enough from the point forward spot. With how much Toronto likes to move the ball, it makes sense as to why Nurse sees this role as somewhat interchangeable.
In a perfect world, OG’s role would free up VanVleet for more perimeter shots while also giving their 230-pound monster truck of a forward ample opportunity to score as an isolation monster. This idea from the mad scientist Nurse might just be crazy enough to work.