OG Anunoby is a Raptors fan favorite. Drafted in 2017 at pick 23. OG quickly won the hearts of Raptors fans all over. Expected to miss his rookie year with a torn ACL, OG exceeded expectations and ended up starting most games on a 59 win team. Including when he went into the playoffs and competed against big stars such as John Wall or Lebron James. Because of OG’s success, he’s had high expectations placed on him and after a rocky sophomore season filled with issues both personal and physical, OGs had a couple of people get down on him. But he has improved just not in a consistent manner.
The objective of this article is to breakdown OGs game using mostly film and point out his strengths and weaknesses and places where he’s shown potential. Raptors Cage’s very own Kempton Ashely wrote a great article on Og’s improvements in an article I also recommend you check out.
As of right now, OG is a pure 3nD forward. His role is to take open shots and play defense. The first of which he has been wildly inconsistent at.
OG has not really improved much as a shooter statistically. In fact, he has regressed. His 3p% and FT% are both significantly down from his rookie year.
3P% 2018- 37% FT%- 63%
3P% 2019- 34% FT% – 58%
While these differences may seem very significant at first its merely an example of small sample sizes. For example,
In his rookie season, OG shot 73/197 from deep which comes out at 37%
As I write this article OG has shot 66/195 so far which looks worse than it is at 34%.
The difference here is about 7 made 3s. Close to statistically insignificant. In fact, n a stat as volatile as 3pt shooting the sample required to get a reasonably accurate picture is 75o attempts
OG has taken a total of 426 attempts from deep and made 152 of these shots. That would make OG a 35.6% career shooter from deep which is right around league average (35.5% from 3 is the league average this season)
Because of this, am confident in saying that OG is a league average shooter.
I am not a shot doctor but it’s obvious that his form shooting form has improved quite a bit even if it has not translated to the best results, watch how much smoother it is in this comparison. The balance is better as well indicated by landing in the same spot as where he jumped from instead of a few feet ahead. Og also has a superior follow through and overall motion is smoother.
He is however not at all consistent with his form, especially in the face of pressure (or lack thereof) leading to wildly inconsistent results.
Flashes of something more…
Right now OG is best as standstill shooter on open shots but he has shown a little extra here and there
Coming off a pindown for the 3 in motion, it’s not something he has in his bag now. But if he can hit these shots it makes him a much more dynamic offensive player
Pulling up off the dribble, this is a skill only star players really have. It’s not something we can reasonably expect OG to develop but again the flashes of at least a good shooter are there.
A little pull-up jumper after being forced off the line
Another pull up
Stepback Jumper from Midrange
All of that was good but there is the ugly
When OG misses he can be way off his target. Frequently shoots it short with some airballs here and there.
OG is also not afraid to shoot contested 3pt shots, even if this isn’t the best idea.
He can, however, be bothered by the defense and again shoot the ball way off his target
The set point on his jump shot is very low, this means his jumper has a longer windup time and is more prone to getting blocked.
He has also struggled from the FT line, we can look at his college numbers since the distance is the same. OG has only taken 124 FTA in his NBA career shooting 60 %. If we add his college totals out of 214 attempts he has made only 122. Good for only 57% from the stripe. Far from an elite shooter. (To his credit he has shot 87% from the stripe post all star in 2019 but small sample size applies here as well.)
OG is a mixed bag as a shooter, statistically, he grades out average. He has flashed both very high-level shooting and some very bad shooting. The truth is he probably ends up somewhere in the middle. Due mostly to what seems to be inconsistency and maybe a mental element given from his struggles at the line.
At first glance, Anunoby has the makings of a good slasher. He is 6’8 235lbs. He has a long wingspan, a good first step and a crazy athleticism that lets him do things like walk into a between the legs 360 dunk
At times he can certainly look the part of a strong slasher.
Anunoby can be devastating when given an open runway to the rack, either dunking it in spectacular fashion.
Or showcasing his length and finishing.
But despite all those good looking highlights, OG has 2 major problems preventing him from becoming a slasher.
- His handles are bad for his position
Ogs handle is not tight enough to be a consistent slasher. He dribbles too high which leads to him getting stripped and his trouble getting by his man when he can’t beat them with his athleticism (which is nice but his first step is nothing spectacular.)
His lack of creativity with his handle also leads to many offensive fouls
The other issue is when he gets to the rim he struggles finishing through contact, despite his strong frame.
Compare that to his teammate Kawhi Leonard, who is an expert at leveraging his frame and strength and finishing right through contact
OG is also very predictable and not that explosive around the rim, which leads to getting blocked frequently. He has a tendency to go up not as strong as he could again leading to being blocked or stripped pretty frequently. This issue is compounded by his below average ball handling ability which leads to very predictable offense. The way to address this is for OG to develop more creativity around the rim, focusing on using his length as a tool to help his finishing. Pascal Siakam is an expert at using his length to finish around the rim. While OG doesn’t have to attempt the crazy finishes that Pascal does, he would be well served in learning to maximize his length consistently as a finishing tool along with adding an element of craft to his game. The use of shot/pass fakes could help him get cleaner looks and not be blocked so much.
I have seen some fans refer to OG as a “low IQ” player but I just don’t think that’s true. He is very capable of making the quick and right read. One of his first plays as a Raptors was this drive and dump to former Raptors legend Jakob Poeltl.
The dump off pass is one of OG’s most consistent passes, he is always looking at the dunker spot to make the easy pass on his rare drives to the rim.
He also shows a very solid understanding of open shooters on the court. OG is not the type of passer to create opportunities but he can usually make the right read. Such as here he recognizes the aggressive closeout and makes the right pass to open 3.
Or in the above clip, he recognizes Ryan Anderson is cheating off his man and punishes him for it.
Here he inserts himself to the middle of Miami’s 2-3 Zone and acts as a playmaker finding the cutting Ibaka.
These are the type of reads OG is able to make on a consistent basis. The issues in his passing come from a lack of ability which can be misattributed as a lack of IQ.
We can find an example if we go back to the Miami game. Again we find OG in the middle of the zone. This time he receives the ball and spots and open Kyle and makes the right read.
Unfortunately, he is way too strong on that pass and an open corner 3 turns into a turnover. The issue here was not the lack of recognition (IQ) but instead the lack of ability (throwing the pass way too hard).
This is a consistent theme in OG’s passing game. One that is encouraging as it is something that can be improved with time and experience. The understanding is there but the execution is lacking due to missing a number of skills. OG needs to work on his accuracy as a passer and his ball handling to make a leap in this facet of his game.
OGs post game is also a work in progress, Nick Nurse has talked about wanting OG to punish mismatches but the opportunity or the results really haven’t been there. He has the body and length of a player who should be able to punish mismatches in the post but again lacking in the skill department.
Again OG lacks a level of finesse and I think one of his biggest issues, in general, is not understanding his own body. OG is a very strong player but he does not understand how to use that strength, unlike Kawhi Leonard who is an expert in bully ball. We see him get too sped up or be strong in post-up situations leading to offensive fouls.
Here he drives his shoulder into the flopping Kevin Love and turns over the ball being to sped up and turns over the ball.
Or here as he is unable to bully the smaller Jordan Clarkson leading to his shot being blocked.
OGs post ups like the rest of his offensive game, are a mixed bag. Inside that bag are the flashes of a good post player. Here he demonstrates that by hitting a turnaround fade away jump shot. It’s not the smoothest one you will ever see but its a start.
Here he will demonstrate good footwork and touch, creating a good looking bank shot.
Here he creates a good look again but just misses after getting the shot off over the much bigger Giannis
Not exactly a post up but shows good footwork getting the reverse dunk within the paint.
Just like other aspects of his game, OG has shown flashes of a good post player but has been very inconsistent at this facet as well. He does not yet have a good understanding of how to score in the post but as shown a basic understanding of post footwork and with some flashes of high-level skill. He gets too sped up and is prone to mistakes but with time and effort, OG has the potential to be a decent post up player.
This is why OG was drafted. OG first gained national attention by shutting down Jamal Murray during March Madness. Playing suffocating defense and impressing the basketball world. OG has shown the potential to be a very high-level defender and this is the aspect of his game I personally the highest on.
OG Anunoby is one of the very few players in this league that can legitimately guard against 1-5. Not just switch but legitimately guard. Of course, there is an asterisk here where OG struggles most against skilled 5s. But he is as versatile as it gets.
OGs best defense is shown against smaller players, where he has great feet and length and swallow up players.
Here he swallows up Bradley Beal forcing him into an extremely difficult shot even for his standards.
Here he keeps with and blocks John Wall one of the quickest and most explosive guards in the league
Anunoby again flashed his potential as a defender in his first NBA start slowing down one of the best offensive players of this generation in James Harden
Anunoby does a great job of getting into his stance and containing the guard, not getting blown by. His length and instincts allow him to recover quickly and force opponents into tough shots.
Like mentioned before OG can guard any position. Lebron James is one of his notorious matchups and while James shredded the Raptors defense in their previous playoff series Anunoby did a good job defensively forcing Lebron into tough shots (which being Lebron James he made anyway)
Lebron is not the only player OG is good at denying good shots too. Blake Griffin is another one of OGs most frequent matchups and he had done a great job denying him opportunities or forcing tough shots like this one
In the post
OG is one of the strongest Raptors, 6’8 and 235lbs he is very hard to move out of position. (He will be stronger one day he still hasnt fully grown into his body yet). On top of that base of strength, he is very long making him extremely difficult to shoot over. This makes him a tough player to score on in the post.
Here he swallows up Markannen forcing an extremely difficult jumper
Here he does an excellent job denying the post up by Ben Simmons forcing an offensive foul
Here Blake struggles to move him and passes out of the post up
As a Rim Protector
His length and athleticism allow OG to function as a rim protector as well although this part of his game has been relatively unexplored (Nurse put him at the 5 for some very small stints but he did well)
Here he shows his strength and blocks Felicio but loses the rebound
Playing as the 5 again here and Blocks Trier
Another block playing as the center
Off Ball/ Defensive Instincts
One of the underrated improvements OG has made to his game is the improvement in his off-ball defense. As he gains more experience his understanding of passing lanes and how to abuse them is increasing. We see this with the improvement in the number of deflections he created. OG averaged 3 deflections per 36 since Jan 1st, 2019. Just behind Kawhi Leonard and Patrick McCaw for third on the team. His length and speed give him the potential to be a monster in the passing lanes (like Paul George or Kawhi Leonard are)
One of his most frequent disruptions is stripping players driving in the middle of the paint.
OG also shows potential as a help side rim protector
His length and timing allow him to occasionally block jump shots as well
Footwork, OG while doing a great job in guarding players in space needs to improve his defensive footwork particularly around screens where he tends to get caught often.
He also has a tendency to be tricked by fakes and crossovers and needs to learn when to be patient and stay down on these fakes.
Improving his footwork and anticipation skills will take OG to the next level as a defender. On top of that, he can still learn to better utilize his length to create havoc in the passing lanes and pressure ball handlers.
OG will also get stronger over time he is still young about 21 years old and will grow into his large frame over the next couple of years. He is naturally a more bulky player given his sheer size and will likely grow more into his frame and athleticism. Natural and Mental improvements that come with age and experience give me enough optimism to project OG as eventually an All-Defensive caliber defender.
So we wonder what does OGs ceiling look like as a player?
While I am not certain that he will reach quite those heights. I am comfortable projecting what skills he has shown and projecting them long term. If we are to look at the ceiling in the sense what would OG look like if he can consistently use the skills flashed by him in this article? A dominant defender, who can guard all 5 positions, a shooter that has to be covered, a player that can punish mismatches in the post and a dangerous slasher/driver who can punish teams with poster dunks. All while making the right plays and being a positive presence on the glass.
While I’m not a fan of 1:1 player comparisons the player that this is closest to describing is Kawhi Leonard before his offensive leap. Kawhi from 2013-2014.
If OG becomes this player or something resembling this, he will be one of the most valuable players in the league. Especially in a league that is exceedingly more dependent on versatility.