The Toronto Raptors have had to play their last two games without OG Anunoby on the floor, and the results have been wholly underwhelming. Toronto was embarrassed by the Milwaukee Bucks in a game that was never competitive and needed a miracle comeback to beat the lowly Washington Wizards.
While taking one of the best on-ball defensive players in the league and a solid 3-point shooter off a team in dire need of both of those things is naturally going to be a significant anchor weighing everything down, the fact Toronto has looked this inept without him has been a major system shock.
Anunoby is a free agent after this season, and his price has increased sharply after every passing game. Darko Rajakovic’s offense can’t get going without him, while his defense looks utterly lackluster without him and tremendous when he is on the floor.
The Raptors are +46 when Anunoby has been on the floor this season and -72 when he hasn’t. This can be explained as the result of Toronto’s lack of depth, but it’s also become painfully clear that the only way this flawed roster can be held together is with Anunoby’s long arms and expert marksmanship.
OG Anunoby is incredibly important for the Toronto Raptors.
Anunoby has always been a solid shooter, but he’s become indispensable for Toronto. The Raptors will go long stretches without attempting or making a 3-pointer, even though Rajakovic’s system was supposed to generate more open looks from deep. The personnel simply makes this offensive system impossible to run.
Anunoby’s defense not only helps Toronto lock down the opposing star, but also makes life easier for Jakob Poeltl by being able to contain drives. Without it, as Damian Lillard proved in Milwaukee’s win, teams can spam pick-and-rolls to make life hard on Poeltl.
Even though Pascal Siakam has a longer resume, Anunoby has become this team’s second-most important player. Rajakovic’s system needs more shooters like Anunoby on offense, and the defense can’t function without his versatility. On a defense-first team, that’s a significant flaw.
The Raptors are a flawed team, and they need Anunoby and Scottie Barnes to paper over the cracks until more cavalry comes. Without such a move, the Raptors will be banking on a player who gets hurt quite frequently to overcome all these issues.
That is unwise.