The 2017 NBA Draft is finally in the books. Now: the hangover, such as it is. The Raptors did not do anything too wild last night, using the 23rd pick to draft a quality player in OG Anunoby. Yes, OG did tear his ACL in January and may not play for the rest of the calendar year, but many talking heads out there believe him to be a talented player.
The question now is: just how talented is he? I’m glad you asked. Let’s run through the post-draft grades to see how the supposed experts viewed the Raptors’ selection of Anunoby.
First, here’s the most obvious assessment, out of the way straight off the top. A classic line from ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla:
OG Anunoby sexy blogger pick. Knee injury not the issue. Excellent defensive potential but limited O, still streak shooter. Teams lukewarm.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) June 23, 2017
Go ahead and be lukewarm, teams. The Raptors got the sexy blogger pick and we’re happy. Anyway, I digress.
OG Anunoby tore his ACL in January. The Indiana product downplayed his recovery process to ESPN during draft night, but he admitted the injury likely affected his stock. The Raptors hope to see Anunoby's tenacity on defense in the pros. If he can improve on the offensive end, he'll compete for a starting role at small forward.
The Draymond Green of this draft. So versatile on D, needs develop on O. Injury troubles is why he slipped.
Anunoby may miss most of his rookie season while recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in college, which allowed Toronto to luck into a player with as much defensive upside as anyone in the draft. Anunoby has the physique you would expect for a guy whose older brother played in the NFL, and he has incredible lateral quickness and vertical explosiveness for a 6-foot-8 forward. His offense is still a work in progress, but his ability to match up with multiple positions should allow him to fit into almost any lineup once he gets healthy.
Once Anunoby is healthy, he'll be one of the best defenders in the NBA — and an efficient, explosive scorer to boot. He could miss all of next season and I'd still give the Raptors an A for drafting Anunoby to join DeMar DeRozan and (possibly) Kyle Lowry.
ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla called Anunoby a “sexy blogger pick,” which sounds about right. His potential is enough to cause some drooling among the scout types, but NBA executives understandably were worried about his injury history and lack of offensive polish. Yet Anunoby might be the best possible pick for the Raptors, who love versatility and could use a lock-down bench defender. If not for this year's injuries, he might have been a top-eight pick.
This is an easy fit in Toronto. The team has been looking for a stretch/perimeter-4 for years, and Anunoby is going to be tailor-made for that role defensively. At 6-7 with a 7-3 wingspan, he has the potential to turn into an All-Defensive Team caliber player. The key is getting something out of him on offense, as he might be the rawest player in the first round on that end. Still, this is perfect.
Anunoby and his short shorts will be starting by All-Star Weekend (provided he’s back from his ACL surgery). Book it.
GRADE: Masai Ujiri is great
So far, one thing seems settled: the basketball intelligentsia like the Anunoby selection for the Raptors.
The ACL injury is obviously a bit of a concern, but there’s a tremendous upside to OG if/when he’s healthy that you don’t often see in the 23rd pick. Here’s hoping the bet pays off for the Raptors.