He is a candidate for best name in the draft. Ogugua Anunoby, better known as OG, made his case last season with the Indiana Hoosiers, even though he suffered a season-ending knee injury in January. He transformed from an early second-round project, to a potential lottery pick. Offensively, Anunoby won’t blow anyone away. He scored just over 11 points per game last year, while he shot only 56 percent from the charity stripe. However, he proved himself to be a defensive force. He swatted 1.3 shots and racked up the same amount of steals, albeit in just 16 games. The sophomore Hoosier will join Luol Deng as the only current English-born players in the Association.
D-D-D-Defense. To give Anunoby a Milwaukee tie-in, think Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Yet another guy with a fantastic name, and a spectacular defensive skill set, Mbah a Moute was never going to set the world on fire with his shooting (although he has certainly improved his three-point game in recent years). What he brings to the table is solid, lockdown defense. Anunoby will do the same. Of course, it always helps on defense when you have a 7’2” wingspan and an 8’11” standing reach. Anunoby stands 6’8”, but at just under 20 years old, he may still grow an inch or two. We’ve seen that before *cough* the Greek Freak. Anunoby’s combination of size and defensive awareness make him a candidate for perennial All-Defense consideration. Oh, and the guy can throw it down with anybody.
What scares teams away almost more than anything? Health. As briefly mentioned before, Anunoby only played in 16 games last year due to a knee injury that required season-ending surgery. Are teams going to take a chance on a young forward who struggles offensively and may have knee problems going forward? The 76ers took Joel Embiid third overall in 2014 knowing he had foot and back problems, so nothing is out of the question.
We discussed his shooting before. Although it hasn’t been horrendous, it’s certainly something he will need to work on in order to get into a consistent rotation in his rookie year. Although he shot over 70 percent on two-point shots last year in Bloomington, that number is misleading. Anunoby’s game has been mostly around the rim, but he’s showed efforts of expanding his range, and it would be wrong to think he can’t improve. We’ve seen Jabari Parker steadily increase his outside shooting since entering the Association. There’s no reason to think Anunoby can’t do the same, but he will need to if he wants to be an impactful player in the future.
First year expectations and fit
Anunoby will turn 20 years old in July. It’s not often we see 20 year old defensive-minded forwards take over. But it’s not crazy to expect him to be a reliable role-player for a contending team. While a team like the Bucks would love his defense and length, Milwaukee needs to find more perimeter shooting in order to keep up with the rest of the NBA. Teams like the Portland Trail Blazers (picking 15th, 20th, 26th) or the Utah Jazz (picking 24th) would love his size and defensive prowess to *try* to compete with Golden State (that still won’t happen). Look for Anunoby to be selected by a contending or fringe team looking to batten down the hatches on defense.
Unless you’re consistently blocking 3 shots per game, it’s tough for a guy to be an All-Star on defense alone. It’s probably unrealistic to expect Anunoby to be an All-Star anytime soon, but who am I to count him out? He has the size and basketball IQ to be successful. As far as his career outlook goes, he should have no problem building a long, solid NBA career, even if he’s forced to have a stint or two in the D-League (or G-League now. Ridiculous). We probably won’t see signs of stardom right out of the gates, but the potential seems to be there. For now though, Anunoby can expect to be a reliable player off the bench, probably getting 15-20 minutes per game. He’s got the size, and the smarts. Once he gets the shooting, Anunoby will have the coveted triple-S combination that I just made up.