In the opinion of an anonymous Eastern Conference general manager, Toronto Raptors small forward O.G. Anunoby is the best available player to acquire before the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
Ric Bucher of FoxSports.com looked at the current trade market and noted how Anunoby’s talents make him a hot commodity for other teams.
“A versatile young player in his prime?” the Eastern Conference GM said. “One thousand percent he would be the best available player at the deadline.”
The Raptors appear to be on the verge of a major overhaul, since simply making the playoffs this season will be a challenge. Entering the team’s Saturday night game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Raptors are 22-28, which serves as the 12th-best record in the Eastern Conference.
That status is coupled with the possibility that the Raptors could watch their starting backcourt leave in free agency during the offseason. In addition, one report earlier this week indicated that Anunoby wants to leave the Raptors.
Just heard this on the Bob McCowan podcast:
“I talked to an NBA insider yesterday, this is a guy I’ve known for a few years, he tells me… Anunoby wants out of Toronto”
Take that as you will. pic.twitter.com/Dolb8UE91o
— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) January 24, 2023
Both Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. can opt out of their current contracts at the end of this season. That could also put them on the trade market if the Raptors choose to take that route.
Trent is actually slightly younger than Anunoby, having just turned 24 last week. However, Anunoby is only 25 and offers an array of talents that help explain why teams are interested.
Anunoby is in his sixth season with the Raptors after being taken by them with the 23rd overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. During his second season, he came off the bench in 61 of 67 regular season games as the Raptors went on to capture the franchise’s first and only title.
This season, Anunoby is averaging 16.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, a league-high 2.1 steals and 2.0 assists per game. He’s started in each of the 45 games he’s played in this year and is connecting from beyond the arc at a rate of 36.6 percent.
His defensive ability is something that attracts the interest of contending teams. Those franchises most likely see him as a player who is still young enough to make a big impact in the years ahead.
Anunoby is currently in the midst of a four-year, $72 million contract extension that he agreed to in 2020. He’s making $17.35 million this year and will make $18.6 million next season.