Raptors: Celtics gush over O.G. Anunoby after another All-Star-type game

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 05: O.G. Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors dunks against the Boston Celtics (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 05: O.G. Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors dunks against the Boston Celtics (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have lost three of their last four games, with their only win coming against arguably the NBA’s worst team in the Magic. While the defense has been suspect of late, as evidenced by the beat-up Boston Celtics scoring 116 points during their third game in four nights, O.G. Anunoby remains consistently excellent.

Anunoby has not only been given the toughest defensive matchups in the league on a routine basis, but he’s doing so while also being the No. 2 scorer on a Raptors team in dire need of offensive consistency. Anunoby’s performance is starting to get his All-Star buzz amped up.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum, who grew up playing alongside Anunoby on the high school circuit as they grew up near one another in Missouri, is thrilled that he’s finally getting the respect he deserves from the larger NBA media landscape. Tatum acknowledges what a nightmare it is to have O.G. defend you for four quarters.

“I’m really happy for him,” Tatum said, per Aaron Rose of Sports Illustrated. “Just to see how much his game has developed from when we were 15 years old to now…Hell of a player. Somebody I love competing against him. Hell of a defender as well.”

Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart also praised Anunoby, believing that Toronto’s budding star could end up taking his crown away from him. “He’s strong enough to guard anybody,” Smart said. “He’s a great defender, and one day I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in the DPOY race or wins it.”

Toronto Raptors: Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart praised OG Anunoby.

The fact that Anunoby has been an even better turnover generator this season without losing one iota of his on-ball excellence or versatility is his best argument in the DPOY race. While Scottie Barnes hasn’t taken the leap that many expected as a defender, O.G. has helped pick up the slack.

Boston may have scored 116 points, but Anunoby held his own. Both Tatum and Brown shot under 50% from the field, and Anunoby played a part in forcing 11 turnovers from the Celtics. Even though he’s seen his 3-point percentage dip, Anunoby’s overall offensive game appears to be more advanced than it was before.

If the league’s best offense in Boston is willing to go to such lengths in defense of Anunoby, that should tell everyone a little something about how impactful he can be, even against a team that is widely regarded as the best in the business.

Next. 5 teams who could trade for Gary Trent Jr. dark