If you could pick any player in the NBA to make a stop in isolation, who would it be? If you ask ESPN's Tim Bontemps and Nate Duncan of the Dunc'd On Podcast, the answer is Toronto's OG Anunoby.
The question was first brought up a few months ago on a mailbag episode of Duncan's Dunc'd on Podcast when Duncan said he'd take Anunoby over anyone else in the league. On Wednesday's episode, Bontemps was asked the same question and he agreed.
"He's a mountain of a human being," Bontemps said of Anunoby. "He's 6-(foot)-9 and just a block of granite, I agree with your sentiment... I would say the same thing, he is both big enough and fast enough to guard any wing player in the league. That goes for guys like Kawhi, who are super strong, or LeBron, and he can also guard guys like Jason Tatum, who are quicker. He has just really become a terrific player for them this year. ... To go back to your original (question), if I'm picking one guy to guard in an isolation in the league, I think I'm with you, I'd pick OG because he's so big and strong and quick that I think he can handle just about anything that's thrown his way."
Anunoby's isolation stats are eye-popping. He ranks in the 94th percentile in isolation defense, according to NBA Advanced Stats, surrendering 0.61 pointer per possession in isolation. Of players who have played at least 48 games this year, Anunoby ranked 14th in isolation defense, immediately behind Kawhi Leonard.
While being in the 94th percentile is impressive, it's Anunoby's versatility that makes him truly special in isolation. Of players with a minimum of 2000 possessions, Anunoby led the NBA this season in Versatility, a stat created by Krishna Narsu that attempts to measure how often a player defends different positions. He played 24% of his time defending small forwards, another 24% of his time on shooting guards, 22% of his time on power forwards, and 16 and 13 percent of his time defending point guards and centers, respectively.
While versatility isn't necessarily a positive thing, when paired with Anunoby impressive isolation defensive stats, it's clear he's one of the most skilled and versatile isolation defenders in the NBA.