Zach LaVine has radically changed his shot choice this year and is doing his best to comply with the new (for them) attacking philosophy of the Chicago Bulls. He did this against the Toronto Raptors:
The man who smothered LaVine, forced him not to travel, and disputed his ridiculous turn, is OG Anunoby. This is the kind of thing that has made draftniks fall in love with Anunoby. From DraftExpress in 2017: "He has prototypical physical devices with his elite combination of size, length, strength and mobility, and demonstrated the ability to defend all five positions at the university level when he was called in and operated at maximum intensity."
At that time it was rumored that the 6-foot-7 Anunoby had a wingspan of 7-foot-6. It was measured at just over 7-2 at the combine, but it says people believed the exaggeration, which gave a simple answer to "how the hell did he do that?" Thaddeus Young and Nikola Vucevic may ask themselves that question:
Anunoby has moved to the starting small forward spot that Kawhi Leonard rented last season, and the starting line-up of Toronto has remained extremely stingy. With Fred VanVleet replacing Danny Green, the first five of the Raptors have a defensive rating of 101.9 to seven games. (Last season, the line-up of Kyle Lowry-Green-Leonard-Pascal Siakam-Marc Gasol gave 107.7 points per 100 assets in the regular season and 101.7 in the play-offs.)
Toronto is the most efficient transition team in the competition, according to Synergy Sports, and only the Bucks and Rockets spend a higher percentage of their assets in the transition. Part of that is because Anunoby can mean such things:
It's easy to get excited about his defensive potential, especially when he does talk about studying Leonard, Metta World Peace, Draymond Green and Scottie Pippen. However, defense is not the whole story. With Leonard out of the picture and with opponents who give the other starters of the Raptors the most attention, Anunoby has found places where he can attack an attack. He photographs an astounding but unsustainable 50 percent from a 3 point range, and his most encouraging moments are hinting that his game goes to places that concept experts had not foreseen.
Anunoby is not crazy about playing; its usage rate is still a miniscule 12.8 percent, per NBA.com. But see how he prints this pass for Serge Ibaka in a 4-in-3 situation in Draymond style:
And here he is with two smart passes to VanVleet in a matter of seconds:
The Raptors want to beat teams with improvisation, unpredictability and ball movements. Ideally, they want everyone on the floor to be able to make 3s and, just as important, make quick decisions. It would change franchise if Anunoby becomes the kind of off-the-dribble shooter with which he can consistently go to his Kawhi impression …
… but for now I am more impressed with things like this:
ESPN & # 39; s Zach Lowe noted early in the season that Anunoby drives more often and more effectively. That went on. He has always had the required speed to beat his man off the dribble, and he entered the competition as a better ball handler than advertised. However, he has improved in that area and, even more, improved when it comes to his footwork in the paint:
Sometimes he still looks young and overly ambitious …
… but at other times he looks like an experienced veterinarian:
But how Toronto plays, Anunoby does not have to create much. He can find easy baskets simply by threatening spending cuts. The Raptors have a couple of high-IQ passers, and Siakam is especially looking for him:
Personally I would like to see more Siakam-Anunoby pick-and-rolls:
Anunoby had a difficult second season on and off the track, but he is only 22 and has never looked better. "He grows every game and he blooms," said VanVleet, via the Toronto Sun., which is comparable to how everyone spoke about Siakam last year.
It is too early to anoint Anunoby as a candidate for the most improved player, but the fact that this seems possible is proof that he is making a leap. For a team that has a more vague future than a recent title defender, Anunoby & # 39; s ongoing development offers Toronto something solid.