Title: Raptors draft pick of OG Anunoby an interesting experiment in changing NBA landscape
Date: June 23, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I looked at the Raptors’ selection of OG Anunoby through the lens of the changing NBA.
If someone were to find a way to measure and chart the changes in the NBA over the last decade, there would be no shortage of striking shifts. The game, the way it’s played, managed and analyzed has changed dramatically. In recent years, the changes that would probably stand out as the most important to consider when looking at how to build a team moving forward are:
- The need for 3-point shooting: This was the talk around the Raptors when they were summarily dispatched in four games by the Cleveland Cavaliers, a series that tied the record for greatest 3-point disparity in any four-game series ever. The Raptors had shooters, but they didn’t shoot well, and the offence isn’t designed democratically, such that a high volume of attempts from beyond the arc flow naturally. The takeaway, then, was that the Raptors needed system tweaks (or a “culture reset,” if you prefer the buzzier term), and possibly an influx of shooting, however hard that might be to find.
- The need for defensive versatility: P.J. Tucker earned rave reviews immediately for the punch he gave the team guarding multiple positions, Norman Powell played his way into a larger role thanks in part to his perimeter defence in the playoffs, and still the Raptors found themselves short on the requisite pieces to try to slow down the Cavaliers. In their defence, nobody but Golden State was going to slow down that transcendent attack, but league-wide, positional versatility and the ability to guard multiple positions on the floor is at a premium.
- The need for strong player development: This one might be projecting a bit, but the new collective bargaining agreement that takes hold on July 1 will put an even greater premium on developing talent internally, as the rules and regulations make supplementing a roster via free agency even more difficult. With the G-League (formerly D-League) now up to 27 teams and the introduction of a pair of two-way roster spots to help facilitate organizational depth building, the teams that can turn prospects into production stand to be at a serious advantage.
When the Raptors selected Indiana forward OG Anunoby with the No. 23 pick in the 2017 NBA draft on Thursday night, they made perhaps the most intriguing pick of the night with respect to those three changing NBA ideals. In selecting Anunoby, the Raptors went for the value of defensive acumen and versatility, bet big on their player development program, and took the latest in a line of gambles that shooting is a teachable skill.