The Toronto Raptors have leaned into their unique defensive attack with even more vigor this season, putting a ton of responsibility on players like O.G. Anunoby. Through eight games, five of which have been wins, the veteran wing has rewarded Nick Nurse’ for his trusting attitude.
The last two Raptors wins, both of which have come without an injured Fred VanVleet, have been more noteworthy for Toronto’s offensive performance, as they scored 280 points without No. 23 on the floor. Anunoby’s defense, however, is also worth watching.
After forcing Trae Young to commit 10 turnovers in the win over the Hawks and piling up six steals for himself in that affair, Anunoby amassed five steals in one of the most dominant wins you’ll ever see against the San Antonio Spurs. Forget making All-Defensive team; O.G. is coming for Defensive Player of the Year.
In his postgame availability, Anunoby said that he has “always thought” that he was the best defensive player in the league. Being confident is one thing, but backing it up with numbers that even the most jaded Raptors hater would find impossible to dismiss shows how motivated O.G. is this season.
Toronto Raptors SF O.G. Anunoby wants Defensive Player of the Year.
Even if you’re just a box score scout, Anunoby has been absolutely on fire. His 2.9 steals per game lead all of basketball, and his 1.0 blocks per game would be a new career-best mark. Looking beyond the raw data, his start is somehow even more impressive, considering what he is asked to do.
With rookie Christian Koloko now getting heavy minutes in the paint, Anunoby has become even more aggressive on the perimeter. With active hands, a frame that s not going to let smaller guards get past him, and the ability to turn his defense into offense, this may be his finest season yet.
While O.G. has been one of the most versatile and effective defenders in the league for some time now, the two things that have held him back in DPOY voting have been injuries and a lack of counting stats like steals and blocks that lazy writers look at rather than analyzing his game. This year, he appears to have both of those in his pocket.
Between Anunoby making an All-Defensive team charge and Pascal Siakam putting up MVP-type numbers, the vibes to start the season have been fairly impressive. After years of not getting proper respect from the media, this could be the season where the dam breaks and O.G. becomes an All-Defensive player.