Continuing our look at the Portland Trail Blazers’ 2017 NBA Draft prospects, today we analyze Indiana forward OG Anunoby. Should Portland take him with one of their three (15, 20, 26) first-round picks?
- Height: 6’8”
- Weight: 232 lbs
- Wingspan: 7’2.25”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: SF/PF
- College: Indiana
- Age: 19
- Projected draft range: 13-16
- PPG: 11.1 | Per 40: 17.6
- RPG: 5.4 | Per 40: 8.7
- APG: 1.4 | Per 40: 2.3
- BLK: 1.3 | Per 40: 2.1
- STL: 1.3 | Per 40: 2.1
Anunoby has solid potential on both sides of the ball. He is smart about getting open, looks to make backdoor cuts, and can hit open threes. He is also good at finishing through contact at the rim, which bodes well for someone with an NBA frame. Like Ike Anigbogu—profiled earlier this week—Anunoby is surprisingly quick, despite his impressive musculature. His lateral foot speed helps him stay in front of guards on defense, where he displays a textbook ‘sit-down hands-high’ stance. This pairs well with his excellent reach that is rumored to exceed his latest wingspan measurement. Along with bothering shooters, he is able to hold his ground against most power forwards inside because of his strong base.
Although Anunoby can shoot, he almost certainly needs to be open to be effective and, even then, the mechanics are questionable. He is not going to pull up and make a contested jumper; he is strictly a spot shooter—and a streaky one at that. In most cases, you do not want him putting the ball on the floor either. If he doesn’t lose his handle first, he often hits traffic, stops his dribble, and looks for a desperation pass. On the defensive end, awareness is a real issue. Someone will need to coach the ball-watching out of him before comfortably assigning him crafty veterans. These are all fixable issues, so perhaps most concerning is the January ACL tear, from which he is still recovering.
It is always a bit scary when players go down in serious pain from a non-contact injury. When Anunoby hurt his knee against Penn State, the seriousness of the situation set in immediately. His season was cut drastically short. In the 16 games that Anunoby played, he was an impressive athlete, cashing one-handed highlight dunks on one end and emphatically rejecting shots on the other. The Hoosiers finished the seasons 18-16 overall in his absence.
The same thing that makes Anunoby a risky pick may be a blessing in disguise for the team that drafts him. Although ACL tears should always be taken seriously, they are not necessarily the career sentences they used to be, and we have seen how the uncertainty can impact draft stock of highly anticipated prospects (e.g.: Nerlens Noel in 2013). This could keep Anunoby on the board all the way to 15, where the Trail Blazers make their first selection, or even 20 if the cards fall unexpectedly. When healthy, he is an impact player with a lot to offer, despite unselfishness—an arguably positive trait. If he appears unhindered upon return from injury, this kid will be a steal in the mid-first round. However, that “if” cannot be entirely neglected.
Anunoby can be fielded as a small forward or a power forward in small-ball lineups, making him worth a look for those who prioritize the best player available and those who put more value in positional need. The Trail Blazers lacked consistency at both the 3 and the 4 last season, so giving head coach Terry Stotts another variable to plug into his rotation equations is an idea to entertain. Anunoby projects as a faster, more compact version of Noah Vonleh. If Anunoby exhibits reasonable growth on the offensive end, he could be the type of two-way player the Trail Blazers have in short supply.
His older brother, Chigbo Anunoby, plays nose tackle (defensive line) and has participated on the practice squad for the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, and Cleveland Browns of the National Football League.
Do you want Anunoby in a Trail Blazers jersey next season? Which player would you like us to analyze next? Tell us in the comments below.