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Rumours have been swirling recently that OG Anunoby is dissatisfied with his role in Toronto. While we don't know how much truth there is to that, we do know the NBA is paying attention to how the Raptors are constructing their roster. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
- Here's Anunoby. What a night he's had, 29 points. Sizes up Barrett, fires a 3 and sticks it.
AMIT MANN: Let's go down this very slippery road with OG Anunoby trade rumors, because I would imagine-- I mean, I've seen it online, that people are just like, what? OG Anunoby? Are you kidding me?
And I saw that headline that was from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. He's the one who's reporting that there are a few teams that have inquired about OG Anunoby and they're just deciding to put out the rumor that, you know what, he's dissatisfied. We have no proof. We just kind of feel like that's going to be the case because he's very good, and there's not enough shot attempts for him.
So that's kind of where we're at. His name's around the NBA a lot, and teams are fishing because he's very good. And he's on a great contract. So I guess, do you do you really buy into these rumors? Do you think that there's any validity to it? Or is it just kind of teams fishing because they've mismanaged their franchises, and they need bigger wings?
ERIC KOREEN: Well, do I buy that-- is there some truth in that story? Sure. I think, if I'm OG Anunoby, and I come into last year-- this past season, I should say-- as sort of one of the three guys who've been there and are going to take a bigger part of the leadership committee and, by extension of that, really the offense-- let's just say he'll have a bigger role in the offense. And he did. I don't have the usage percentages in front of me, but it was an all-time-high usage percentage.
But what you when you look at what-- where he was at before Pascal Siakam came back after nine games and where he was for the rest of the year, understandably, he had like a pretty high usage rate in those first nine games, and it went down. And you know what else made it go down? A series of injuries. And I feel bad calling him injury prone, because most of the injuries have nothing to do with one another.
You've got a thumb injury. You've got the knee surgery that started his career. You've got his face seems to be a magnet for elbows and Kawhi Leonard's hands and--
AMIT MANN: Along with Khem Birch, yes.
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah, yeah. So at some point, though, he missed 30 games this year, I believe the number was. And when you're out that long, it allows a Scottie Barnes to take a bigger part of the offense. It allows Pascal Siakam to take a bigger part of the offense, even though his usage was down from certainly two years ago. I'm not sure about last year. And Siakam was awesome.
So do I think OG Anunoby is wildly dissatisfied about his lot in Toronto? No. Do I think like he thought he might take a bigger step last year than he ended up taking? And sort of in the back of his head or in the back of his agency's head, it's like, where is this going? Is there room for him to grow into the player he wants to become? I'm sure those conversations are had, because it'd be irresponsible of a player agency and-- not to talk about it with a player, because in this-- in the modern CBA, with four or five year contracts being the max, you're never that far out from having to negotiate your next contract.
Saying that, I think the bigger part-- and it was sort of hinted at in the article-- is, with each playoffs, we're seeing the more guys between 6'6" and 6'10" who can defend across positions, who can shoot a lot, who are-- even if they're not the world best creators, they can attack a closeout. Those guys-- I mean, that's the whole basis of what the Raptors are doing. And you almost can't have too many of those guys. And so if you're another team around the league, and you're like, uh, we don't-- we only have one of those guys, or we don't really have any of those guys--
AMIT MANN: I tweeted this a few weeks ago when I was watching the Mavericks and Warriors series. I was like, man, they could really use a person like OG Anunoby. Not that every team could use a person like him, but when you have like players like Luka Doncic or Trae Young, or Donovan Mitchell who are just so isolation-heavy, you need players like OG to be on your wing who can just attack closeouts-- not just shoot, but actually create their own shot to some degree.
And these last four teams that are in the Conference Finals and now the Finals, you see their best lineups. It is around kind of what the Raptors are trying to do. And if you are kind of ahead of the curve in that way. And you don't really know where the NBA is going to be going in three, four years. But right now, you are in the thick of it, with just in terms of having the personnel to play a certain way.
It seems irresponsible to just abandon it when you kind of build something, and there's so much room for growth from pretty much every player within this top six. How much do the Raptors value him? And also, is he OK with kind of being in a role where he's one of three instead of maybe having a role where he has a bigger part of the offense.
It's like there's a degree of ego checking that comes with being a person who's on the Raptors, because they have so much talent-- in the starting lineup, I mean-- because they have so much talent and so many players that could actually have some value and get more shot attempts on a different team, just like Tyler Herro was pointing out the other day. He's like, yeah, I'd like to be a starter. I've been off the bench for a few years now.
I'm not saying that that's what OG is thinking, because, I mean, I'm not-- who am I to say that? But that does get to a point where some players are finding themselves, I just want more for myself. And if OG wants a bigger contract, if he wants to get himself closer to being a max player, he probably has to have a more solidified role in an offense.
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah, you want-- you want your players to have ambitions, right? And ultimately, there is a happy middle ground between individual ambition and team goals. And the contract I always-- not the contract, just the situation I always think about was Jerami Grant a few years ago, where Denver picks him up in a trade. It's like, oh, this guy is the perfect piece for what Denver is doing. You have this defender who's 3-point percentage is creeping up.
And he ends up leaving not for more money, but because he saw a bigger offensive role. Does OG Anunoby want that? But I like to say that reporters don't know these guys. I'm sure people who cover Jerami Grant very closely didn't necessarily know that that's what Jerami Grant wanted then. I can't say that this is what OG Anunoby wants in a year or two, whenever he becomes a free agent. But he'll have to come to grips with that.
Meanwhile, he's always been a really good teammate on this team. He certainly excels in the role he's in. I think the Raptors have been cognizant of trying to get him a bigger slice of the pie as the years have gone on. He was the lowest usage of starters when he started out. He was starting, but he was strictly a 3-and-D guy. And yeah, his role hasn't gone from fifth option to first option, but it's gone from 5 to 3.5 to 3, and--
AMIT MANN: To 1, at one point this season.
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah, and to the stuff he's doing, it's gone from, OK, you're taking 3's. OK, now you're attacking closeouts. OK, now you can isolate if you want. Oh, we're going to put you in the post. We trust you to make passes out of the post. They're giving him more leeway. It's just they're not giving-- he doesn't have the carte blanche of somebody closer to Siakam. And we'll see how much he wants that. But for now, I think it would take an awful lot to pry him from the Raptors.
AMIT MANN: A player that would be involved in a OG Anunoby trade would probably be a player where a Raptor fan might be like, OK, OG, thank you so much for your service. We're so happy that we were able to have you for a few years. But now it's time to go be-- because we got this player, someone who's going to put them on a different echelon in the Eastern Conference and that they can truly join that upper tier with a Miami and Milwaukee and so forth.
That's the only scenario where I can see it happening. And that's a trade where-- I mean, that's hard to do. Those aren't easy trades to do. And also, Masai has talked so much about patience with their core. I don't know if next season is the year. And we're going to get this in a second, but is next year or the year where they do that?
It seems a little bit premature based off of what we saw this past season, where they were very good, they exceed expectations. But are you confident that they're a championship team come next year? I'm not really sure, because we didn't see enough of a sample size. They were injured the whole year.
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah, and a lot of the trades that are being thrown out there are for a nice piece and a lottery pick, which makes sense if all you're doing is thinking about the fu-- I mean, I wouldn't say I would do them, necessarily, but they make sense for a team that's doing its future accounting, that's setting its books up to make sense in the long term, that isn't really-- doesn't really have its foot on the pedal.
And while I don't think the Raptors are going to be all in unless the exact perfect deal comes along, I still think they want to be-- they don't want to take a step back. They want to be back in the top six and get these guys more experience and maybe be able to advance to the second round. And maybe with another year together, they're better than you think.