The Toronto Raptors are going to the NBA Finals, but there’s been one key piece missing from the postseason rotation up until this point: OG Anunoby. He’s been recovering from an appendectomy since mid-April, but we’ve just recently heard some good news:
Nick Nurse says OG Anunoby is about 10 days away from being able to play. "He's doing better. He's on the court. He's moving around. He's not 100%, but he's healing."— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 27, 2019
In 10 days, the Raptors will be playing in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Luckily, they’ve been able to survive this long without the size, strength and switchability that Anunoby provides on a nightly basis. But, against the switchiest team in the league in Golden State, a healthy Anunoby could prove vital.
If Kevin Durant makes his return to the court by Game 4, Kawhi Leonard will likely have his hands full. Raptors coach Nick Nurse may opt to mirror Leonard’s minutes with Durant’s —much like he did starting in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, where Leonard started guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo — hoping to stifle the Warriors’ superstar. The potential downside of this move is that it may leave the Raptors vulnerable to attacks from Golden State’s role players at the forward position.
Former Raptor Alfonzo McKinnie has seen significant minutes for the Warriors, even starting in place of the injured Andre Iguodala in the Warriors’ closeout game versus the Blazers. So, if OG Anunoby looks healthy upon his return, he will likely be tasked with handling McKinnie’s minutes off the bench, as well as providing a nice option to cover Jonas Jerebko, who has also seen increased minutes without Durant. As well, Anunoby has shown no reservations in guarding the opposing team’s best player (when needed). Last year, OG showed no fear when tasked with guarding LeBron James. If Kawhi gets switched onto Steph Curry for some possessions, I expect Anunoby and Pascal Siakam to attempt to contain Durant (attempt being the key word here).
On offense, OG has his limitations. He shot poorly from three this year, but he would likely operate nicely as a cutter against Golden State. This is a very different series than the three we’ve seen previously this postseason — the paint will likely open up, resulting in more room for athletic slashers to make their mark. When healthy, Anunoby fits the bill perfectly; his strength and explosiveness allow him to finish effectively in the paint, likely benefiting greatly from Marc Gasol’s tendency to facilitate from the elbow.
Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if Anunoby is too out-of-shape to play significant minutes, if at all. He hasn’t played in a game since April 9th, and it’s difficult to do any conditioning while recovering from an appendectomy. He’s had a tough year, and I feel for the kid. I’m sure he’d like nothing more than to be back out on the court helping his teammates. Let’s hope he gets the chance!