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NBA trade rumors: Why Raptors’ O.G. Anunoby could be worth Donovan Mitchell-like haul

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If the Raptors ever take calls on O.G. Anunoby, expect there to be plenty of interest.

It doesn’t sound like they’ve reached that point yet — there’s also no guarantee that they ever will — but ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently said on his podcast that the return for Anunoby could rival what the Jazz got for Donovan Mitchell if the Raptors do decide to test the trade waters for him.

As a reminder, Utah got three players, three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps for Mitchell. It was one of the bigger hauls we’ve seen for a single player in a long time.

“The entire league wants O.G. Anunoby. Everybody wants O.G. Anunoby,” Lowe said. “If he ever gets traded, the price and picks or whatever is going to surprise people because it might be on par almost with what the Cavs gave up for Donovan Mitchell.

“Like, it’s going to be a lot if it ever happens.”

Mitchell already has three All-Star selections to his name and is almost certainly going to earn his fourth this season. Anunoby hasn’t come close to earning an All-Star selection yet, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone who is familiar with his game that he’s a dream target for a lot of teams.


Why the entire NBA wants Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby

Anunoby ticks three very important boxes in today’s NBA. The first? He’s a proven 3-point shooter.

He doesn’t take a ton of 3-pointers compared to other players at his position, and he’s still mostly a catch-and-shoot threat. But Anunoby has knocked down 36.8 percent of his attempts from the perimeter in his career. At 6-7 with a 7-2 wingspan, he can also get his shot off against most perimeter players.

It helps that Anunoby has been teammates with the likes of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam. He already has plenty of reps sharing the court with stars.

Two, Anunoby has made some real strides as a creator.

There’s still a lot more room to grow, but he’s shown over the last few years that he can do more than hang out on the perimeter and run the floor in transition. Defenders bounce off him on drives to the basket, and he’s become more comfortable creating for himself in one-on-one situations.

It’s hard not to get excited about his potential when you see him dump truck another forward in the post:

Or shake someone loose to set up a step-back 3-pointer:

Last but certainly not least, Anunoby is a hellacious defender.

Not only is he incredibly disruptive — only Brook Lopez has more combined steals and blocks than him so far this season, and he’s among the league leaders in deflections — but Anunoby is also one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA. He has the size to bother forwards and some centers, and he’s nimble enough to hang with guards.

Few players take on tougher defensive assignments than Anunoby. As I wrote recently, he is your favorite player’s worst nightmare. Even the best bucket-getters struggle to score against his size and length.

Anunoby hasn’t made an All-Defensive team yet in his career, but he’s well on his way to earning a selection this season. He might even find himself in the Defensive Player of the Year race if he continues to defend at this level.

So, there are no concerns with O.G. Anunoby?

Not exactly.

The biggest concern is injuries. Anunoby didn’t miss much time in his first three seasons in Toronto, but he was limited to 43 games in 2020-21 and 48 games in 2021-22. He’s been sidelined for a number of reasons, including a calf strain, fractured finger and hip pointer.

Anunoby has a high floor because of his defense and 3-point shooting, but his ceiling is still somewhat of an unknown.

The optimistic view is that he has improved each season, and he’s now a threat to score 20 points on a nightly basis. The pessimistic view is that he’s in his mid-20s, and we still don’t have a great sense of what he’d look like in a more featured role.

Again, the Cavaliers knew they were getting a star when they traded as much as they did for Mitchell. Anunoby could get there, but there’s no guarantee.

What is O.G. Anunoby’s contract and free agency situation?

The soonest Anunoby can become an unrestricted free agent is the 2024 offseason.

He’s on the books for $17.4 million in 2022-23 and $18.6 million in 2023-24. He then has a player option in his contract for the 2024-25 season that’s worth $19.9 million.

  2022-23 2023-24 2024-25 2025-26
O.G. Anunoby $17,357,143 $18,642,857 $19,928,571 (PO) UFA

At the rate he’s going, there’s a good chance Anunoby will decline that option to sign a more lucrative contract. Whether he’s still on the Raptors or somewhere else at that point, he’s going to get paid.


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