The Toronto Raptors suited up against the Washington Wizards without the services of OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr, as the latter suffered a finger injury and the former is dealing with a foot problem. Losing Anunoby proved to be a nearly fatal blow, as Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole couldn’t be stopped for most of the game.
The Wizards made nine of their first 10 shots, connected on 62% of their shots in the first half, and took a 19-point lead into the halftime buzzer. The effort shown on both ends was pitiful, as only a Pascal Siakam masterclass in the third quarter prevented total annihilation.
Toronto needed a miraculous comeback to win 111-107 despite Washington having played on Sunday against the Nets, sporting a 2-7 record, and ranking 29th in the league in points allowed with just under 124 per game. Anunoby has always been valuable, but he might be their second-most important player after that game.
Even though he didn’t play, Anunoby’s value to this team as a shooter and defensive chess piece was crystallized in this brutal (at times) game. This team can barely function on both ends without Anunoby, even when both Scottie Barnes and Siakam are on fire.
Toronto Raptors’ win vs Wizards proves OG Anunoby’s defensive value.
The Raptors looked wholly unprepared to stop Washington from driving into the paint, and almost all of their 3-pointers were wide open. Otto Porter Jr. tried his hardest, but he is nowhere near OG as a player and is wholly unable to replicate his performance.
The Poole-Kuzma duo is inconsistent, but they’re lethal when on. Kuzma had 26 points in his first 23 minutes, and the rest of the offense flowed from there. Daniel Gafford looked like David Robinson, Poole made some tough shots and Deni Avdija was on point all night long.
Even on a team that is built to be a defense-first squad thanks to huge contracts that players like Jakob Poeltl and Chris Boucher earned in the last few offseasons, this group can wither away into nothingness without OG in the fold. Washington can score, but playing like they did for that long was tough to watch.
The Raptors’ hopes of doing anything with the 2023-24 season are still up for grabs, as they still have a difficult schedule to get past. However, as Anunoby helped show via his absence, even games against some of the worst teams in the league on a back-to-back at home can end up turning into wild nights.