Keeping an Eye on OG Anunoby
There's plenty of basketball for Knicks fans to watch, even if the team itself is not in action. The NBA restart is full of talented players, many of whom would look great in blue and orange. As the team looks to turn a corner with Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau, finding the right players to fit their vision becomes paramount to success. The player that I'm watching the closest, and the one who Knicks' fans and front office members should keep an eye out for, is Raptors' wing OG Anunoby.
The former Indiana Hoosier dropped in the draft due to a torn ACL, but he's been a huge find for Toronto. In his third season, Anunoby used his strong frame to be a monster on defense, averaging 1.4 steals per game and often matching up with the opposing team's best player. OG shot 39.3% from deep as well, becoming the quintessential 3&D player and a player type that the Knicks desperately need. A guy like Anunoby would instantly boost New York's defense and help space the floor for R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson to operate.
So why choose Anunoby out of all of the potential 3&D players in the league? Due to his muscular frame and 7' 2" wingspan, Anunoby has shown he can match up against the best players in the league and at the very least hold his own. No one can shut down LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Anunoby can defend them as well as anyone. Having a player like that gives a team a massive defensive weapon in a playoff series and one to help even the playing field if that team doesn't have a LeBron or Giannis-level player (most don't). Anunoby should make an all defensive team soon, and having him as a perimeter defender next to Robinson's rim protection would be perfect for the Knicks.
Of course, a player this coveted will not come cheap, and may not even come available at all. Anunoby will become extension-eligible in the offseason, and he will be a free agent in 2021. All signs point to Masai Ujiri and the Raptors paying up to keep the uber-talented wing. However, things change fast in the NBA. Let's say the Raptors make it to the Finals this year, an entirely possible outcome given their emergence as the second-best team in the East and championship pedigree. If upcoming free agents like Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol are instrumental to a deep playoff run, perhaps Ujiri tries to keep the band together and resign two of three of them. Doing so would make it difficult to pay Anunoby, and it could lead to the third-year player being available in a trade or eventually testing the free agent waters. That would give the Knicks their chance to scoop up Anunoby. If he goes to New York, plays physical defense, and diversifies his offensive game, Rose will have found a gem.
When you're watching the NBA restart and eventual playoff games, pay attention to Anunoby. Watch how he resembles a brick wall on defense. Relish in his catch-and-shoot threes. Hope that the calculations change for Toronto and lead to Anunoby's departure. He just might be the most desirable target for the Knicks.