Spotlight firmly on Raptors’ Anunoby this season

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OG Anunoby doesn’t sound any totally different.


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He’s nonetheless the man that can use as few phrases as potential in response to your query. That’s his approach.

  He doesn’t look a lot totally different both — apart from perhaps even a bit extra chiselled than he was a yr in the past.

However ask anybody across the league and even inside his personal locker room and the expectations are very a lot totally different.

Anunoby, at 24 and with 4 years within the league underneath his belt, isn’t just able to pop, he’s anticipated to pop.

Now, that could be an unfair degree of stress to placed on a younger man however that’s the nature {of professional} sports activities.

You’ve been round a short while. You’ve performed within the shadow of some extra veteran gamers. You will have deferred to them maybe even when the chance in entrance of you is best than the one you’re creating for them by giving up the ball.


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However little by little these veterans have moved on. First, it was Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. This yr, it’s Kyle Lowry. Rapidly, it’s not simply that you just aren’t the brand new child on the block anymore. You might be one of many longest-tenured Raptors remaining, certainly one of simply 4 on this yr’s roster who has really performed a recreation as a Raptor in Toronto.

And on high of all of that, Anunoby has been constructing as much as this second for the reason that Raptors have been lucky sufficient to see him fall all the best way to twenty third within the 2017 draft.

It’s Anunoby’s time and it’s not a secret.

It has lengthy been the case that Nick Nurse has turned to Anunoby as his first line of defence towards the opposing staff’s finest perimeter participant. There have been occasions he has put him on the opposing staff’s centre and requested him to restrict his recreation.


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That received’t change.

“He’s going to be guarding the very best gamers within the league each evening,” Nurse stated, “as a result of he can do it.”

What does change for Anunoby, each now and even after Pascal Siakam returns to the lineup within the coming weeks, is alternative.

And even that is probably not the change everyone seems to be anticipating. For all intents and functions, Anunoby spent final season because the Raptors’ No. 1 and No. 2 possibility on offence — whereas coping with accidents, the COVID points, and on a staff that was tanking in the direction of the latter a part of the schedule.

Nurse appeared to object to using the phrase adjustment when it got here to Anunoby’s anticipated elevated offensive function.

“Properly, the explanation you regulate these issues often is the ball’s stepping into,” Nurse stated. “We don’t actually care how proper? So guys who’re making the ball go in like he’s been doing in a wide range of methods, the ball often finds that individual fairly a bit and that, I suppose simply form of works hand in hand that approach.


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“However so far as changes, I don’t know if there’s changes, I believe it’s at all times form of been the best way that the blokes with the flexibility to extend their possibilities due to their abilities bettering are in a position to try this.”

And make no mistake, Anunoby has improved his abilities.

You’ll be able to go all the best way again to the video games within the Bubble in Orlando following the four-month shutdown of the league for the beginning of Anunoby’s offensive coming-out social gathering.

It was there that we first began noticing him placing the ball on the ground and attacking the rim in visitors with some regularity. And it was both there, or actually final season, when the three-point shot turned one thing he may depend on constantly. The warmth-check days ended for good a yr in the past in Tampa when Anunoby completed the yr a hair underneath the 40% plateau for long-distance gunning.


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This previous summer time, you began to listen to the identical form of rumblings we heard about Siakam just a few years again when his low season exercises have been the discuss of the league and put him on the highway to his first all-star look.

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That seems to be the place Anunoby is now and his pre-season has achieved nothing to dissuade anybody of that notion.

“He’s assured in his talents proper now,” Nurse stated. “I believe that if you end up, you’re at all times looking out extra, you’re discovering methods to be open, get the ball, demand it on the submit, perhaps the window of a driving lane is form of there, and perhaps a yr in the past or two years in the past that form of there wasn’t taken, but when it’s form of there now, he’s blasting by there. He’s gonna take his possibilities a bit bit extra, you recognize, these sorts of issues I simply assume once more are expertise and really feel, and once more simply confidence in his personal potential.”


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That’s the place Anunoby is now and that’s why he’s a man who’s going to get extra consideration than he ever has earlier than.


Nurse knew the ultimate minimize was going to be a tricky one — and it was.

The staff opted to maintain Sam Dekker and let Ish Wainright go to get to fifteen on the roster.

On the floor, it appeared just like the Raptors simply opted for Dekker’s capturing over Wainright’s defensive physicality, however that wasn’t the precise cause the chips fell the best way they did.

Dekker received out in line with Nurse partly as a result of he was extra appropriate to fill in for the staff’s present accidents to Chris Boucher and Yuta Watanabe and the rehabbing Pascal Siakam.

“Sam’s in all probability acquired a bit bit extra versatility along with his measurement to bump up the lineup,” Nurse stated. “And like I stated health-wise we’re a bit skinny with Pascal, Chris and Yuta and Sam in all probability bumps up approach simpler than Ish does all. Ish can form of do it due to his energy. However that’s in all probability the most important cause.”



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