The Toronto Raptors were so committed to their positionless style and method of playing the game that they were often willing to overlook their laws in an incredibly average 41-41 season. One of the few players who stood out in this milquetoast season was forward OG Anunoby.
Anunoby is the archetype of the player Masai Ujiri and Nick Nurse want to populate this Raptors team with, and his defense performance has made him a player worthy of such a featured role. If he doesn’t make the All-Defensive team, that is a crime against basketball.
Together with Fred VanVleet, Anunoby helped make Toronto one of the best teams in the league in terms of forcing turnovers. VanVleet finished the year third in steals per game, while OG made history by becoming one of the first Raptors to join a very exclusive club.
Anunoby made history by leading the league in steals per game, becoming just the second Raptors player to claim the NBA’s best mark in blocks, steals, points, rebounds, or assists per game in a given season. Only Marcus Camby, who claimed the league’s block title in the second year of the franchise’s existence, can say the same.
Toronto Raptors SF OG Anunoby led NBA in steals per game.
While Anunoby was considered a popular trade chip before the deadline due to the fact that questions about his offensive ceiling continue to circle, what is inarguable is the fact that he is one of the best defenders in the league. No asset they get back in a trade will help them on the defensive end quite like OG will.
Nick Nurse has asked Anunoby to do a ton this season, and he’s been quick to praise him when he gets the job done. From defending perimeter players like DeMar DeRozan and Bradley Beal to matching up against the mercurial Nikola Jokic in the span of a few games, Anunoby is quite the unique talent.
The combination of playing in Toronto, a lack of self-promotion, and the team’s poor record might be enough for the voters to normally pass over Anunoby. However, now that he leads the league in a category of this importance, the voters might be more favorable to his All-Defensive campaign.
Anunoby can be a frustrating watch on the offensive end due to how wild his performances can be, but it’s a rare treat to have someone this elite and committed on the defensive end.