Amit Mann and Katie Heindl look at how OG Anunoby can help the Raptors increase their ceiling for the 2022-23 season and why it affects his future. Full podcast looking at most improved candidates and game-changing skill additions is on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed and on our YouTube channel.
KATIE HEINDL: I've just been banging, I feel like, every single season. And I'm happy to continue it, like, my campaign for this. But I think OG Anunoby this season, always-- one, still hasn't had a clean, knocking on wood, like, clean season, so to speak-- like, hasn't gotten like the total runway.
This is also something I say again and again, but it's true. And I really think there's so much to be gained from that. You've seen that in, like, how it's worked for his teammates, even somebody like Scottie Barnes, right, in his first season, the way that he was able to improve and kind of grow in leaps and bounds just because he had this, like, totally, I'd say, the right kind of pressure, but not, like, total pressure.
He was kind of freed up to play the way that he wanted. And he was healthy. He was able to experiment and explore. And OG has never had that. Like, when he was, like, a younger player with the team, now as he's kind of one of these core vets with the team, still hasn't had that.
I think the fact that he's grown into the athlete that he is and the capabilities that he has with the team speaks to how versatile and skilled he is because he hasn't had that uninterrupted time, the fact that he's still been able to adjust and adapt, like, again-- when we've seen him do the things he has with the small windows that he's had to do them in, can you imagine, like, what he could do if he had that unbroken season?
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
KATIE HEINDL: So, again, this is my one truest hope, probably, this season for him-- I think for any of the Toronto Raptors. But if he has that, then I do think he's someone who, like, I actually can't-- I can't really even picture. Like, I can't wait to see what that could look like.
AMIT MANN: THE past few seasons, he hasn't played more than 50 games.
KATIE HEINDL: I know, it sucks.
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
KATIE HEINDL: It really sucks. It's because also, like, look at how Fred, and Pascal, and these are his two kind of closest teammates in terms of, yeah, their interpersonal relationships, but also the way that they play together on the floor, the way that they've kind of grown up within the system-- look at where they've come to.
Again, I don't think any of this has to do with OG'S skill or lack thereof. I think he's an incredibly skilled athlete-- super adaptable, super versatile, as I said. I think it's just, like, it must suck to turn around and kind of look at those guys and be like, yeah, I should be there too. He's definitely made up for it, but, like, I just want him so badly to have that time.
AMIT MANN: And this is, again, the help me, help you, right? If Pascal Siakam is trusted to be in that corner, it doesn't have to be OG, because he's so good from there and they need him there. If Pascal is able to be there, now OG can be a bit more on ball.
We saw glimpses of iso OG at the beginning of the season when Pascal was out. He averaged over 20 points, 46% shooting, lots of turnovers-- it was a learning experience, though, as you're talking about. That was probably, like, the most he's had during his NBA career to go out there, and try things, and figure it out, and he did.
There were real flashes there of on-ball creator, self generator, pull-up shooting. Like, he really found his groove at times. And that's where he hit his career high, I believe it was in New York, right-- 36 points. He had a great game, went toe to toe with Julius Randle, and he won.
So that was a great accomplishment for him, one of his best games of his career. So I would love to see it. And again, if this just-- if this is all leading to the Raptors being that much more versatile on the offensive end, sure, maybe it's iso heavy, but if you have the horses to do it and there's always someone you can capitalize on on the other team between Scottie, or Pascal, or Scottie-- OG, Pascal, Scottie-- I think I said that right.
KATIE HEINDL: It's like Scottie, Pascal, Scottie.
AMIT MANN: Yeah, there you go.
KATIE HEINDL: You can mention him twice.
AMIT MANN: Yeah, exactly, Scottie three more times. One more time. All three of them, it's still a viable solution to some of their halfcourt offense woes. But they do need the three-point shooting to continue to get better.
But I mean, OG, like, if he has another one of these injury seasons with mysterious injuries coming up, like-- I know, knock on wood. I know.
KATIE HEINDL: Knock on wood.
AMIT MANN: We're going to be affecting his next contract, right? Right now, he's making $20 million a year. He's 25, I believe-- 24. That next deal is supposed to be that Hail Mary deal for him.
And he's going to be worth it. I mean, 17 points, five rebounds, two assists-- like, he's one of the best players at his role in the NBA. And there's more upside. But he's got to get on the court he's got to stay there.
And it's going to be-- it'll be terrific for him to see what he's able to do with a bit more steady reps, consistency, and then, obviously, I think he'll probably perform a lot better too. Like, the hand injury that he played through that also impacted his shooting, which really dipped his numbers down too-- just been injury on injury on injury, man. It's crazy.