What would a bigger role for OG Anunoby even look like? Where Raptors can improve forward to reach their potential

By now you’ve probably heard the rumblings that OG Anunoby wants a bigger role in the Raptors.

Jake Fischer from Bleacher Report was the first to sound the alarm End of March. Fischer noted in his report that Anunoby didn’t “directly express his dissatisfaction with his situation” to the Raptors, but head coach Nick Nurse did made it sound in a recent interview as if they were having talks about his future role.

The current version of Anunoby is someone every team in the league would want on their roster. Not only is he a proven 3-point shooter, but he’s also one of the most versatile defenders in the league. As far as 3D players go, he’s pretty high up there.

And yet the intrigue with Anunoby was always just that he could be so much more. Even as he enters his sixth season with the Raptors, it still feels like he’s scratching the surface of his potential.

Does that mean Anunoby is ready for a bigger role? Let’s take a closer look.

MORE: How Free Agency, Draft, and Trade Rumors Shaped the Raptors’ Roster

How the game of OG Anunoby developed

Anunoby was primarily a spot-up shooter when he first entered the NBA. It’s still a big part of his game, but he’s blossomed into a creator over the past few seasons.

Anunoby has isolated and seen most of its growth outside of the post. According to InStathe’s gone from 1.4 percent overall of his offense in those games as a rookie to nearly a quarter (23.6 percent) in the 2021-22 season.

That’s quite a jump.

It contributed to the creation of Anunoby 119 baskets without support in the 2021/22 season 74 2020-21 and 75 2019-20. It’s even more impressive considering he only made 48 appearances in 2021-22, compared to 43 in 2020-21 and 69 in 2019-20.

Where OG Anunoby still has room to grow

Just because Anunoby is isolated and hits more off the post doesn’t necessarily mean he’s elite at it.

During the 2021-22 regular season, Anunoby averaged 0.61 points per isolation possession, which put him in the rank 11th percentile of efficiency. He wasn’t much better when he scored from the post and ended up in the rankings 30th percentile with 0.84 points per possession.

For what it’s worth, Anunoby was in it similar Area the season before.

Anunoby has the tools to be a tough cover in situations like this. At 6ft 7 and 232 pounds, he has the size to get many players into the weight room and is more comfortable using his power to his advantage.

It’s hard not to get excited when you see Anunoby doing stuff like this:

He still doesn’t have the smoothest of grips, but Anunoby is now making things out of dribbling that he wouldn’t even have dreamed of as a beginner. It has helped him become a much more effective driver.

Anunoby’s Pass has even improved. Sure, he still averages nearly as many career turnovers (1.1) as assists (1.4), but pennies like these show he’s on the right track:

That Anunoby is even doing isolation and post-ups shows how much he’s improved since joining the league. The question now is how far he can go with it.

The biggest area where Anunoby still needs to improve is dribbling. According to NBA.com, he’s bagged 26.7 percent of his 3-point pull-ups and 32.1 percent of his 2-point pull-ups this season. To put that in perspective, of the 242 players who attempted at least 50 pull-up jumps, he was Ranked 213th in effective field goal percentagea statistic that cleans up that 3-pointers are more valuable than 2-pointers.

Anunoby might not evolve into a sniper from dribbling, but even minor improvements would go a long way toward making him a more effective and unpredictable one-on-one goalscorer. It would also open the door for him to run more pick-and-rolls.

MORE: What grade did Anunoby receive for the 2021-22 season?

What would a bigger role for OG Anunoby even look like?

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse put it very clearly for Anunoby.

“We’re pretty, you know, if you snag a rebound, you can get it on the floor and make a play. If you have disagreements, if you have a chance to beat people, we want you to do it and he’s talented enough to do it.”

The Raptors are unique in that they have a line-up of players of the same size who can do similar things on offense. That can lead to some overlap in skills, but also makes it difficult to match them up, as at least one of them will almost always have a mismatch.

While Nurse said he could do more plays for him, he wants Anunoby “to take some of that,” which basically empowers him to call his own number more often.

The difficult thing for Anunoby is that he’s playing on a team made up of Fred VanVleet, who won the first All-Star selection of his career this season, Pascal Siakam, a two-time All-NBA team member, and Scottie Barnes, whose role will only grow as he evolves. Unless Anunoby makes a huge leap, he’ll likely come out on top as a third option at best with the way the team is currently set up.

Anunoby posted the fourth highest usage rate — the percentage of team plays a player uses on the court — at the Raptors this season, behind Siakam, VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. Even if he surpasses Trent next season, Barnes expects to get a meaningful boost .

Still, Nurse said he thinks the Raptors could share the wealth a little more on offense.

“We just need to spread it out and get it maybe a little bit more [Anunoby] a little more involved. i think we can I think he’s good enough for that.”

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