Ogugua (OG) Anunoby
NBA Position: SF/Small-ball PF
General Information: 19-year-old sophomore, played for Indiana. From Jefferson City, MO.
Measurables: 6’7.75", 232 lbs, 7’2.5” wingspan, 8’11.5” standing reach.
2016-17 Season Statistics: 11.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1,3 BPG, 1.6 TOPG (16 games played, 25.1 minutes a contest) – 55.7% FG, 56.3% FT, 31.1% 3P
Anunoby is a dynamic defensive prospect with solid reasons for optimism on offense. The shooting breakout Indiana had hoped for didn’t translate, and he can’t be a 3-and-D player if that shot consistency doesn’t appear. He’s also coming off a serious knee injury, and may not be ready by the start of his rookie season. He’s a tier below the top-10 prospects, but as his defensive instincts sharpen and match his physical abilities, he’s a guaranteed impact player on one end of the floor.
Anunoby has all the physical tools you want in an NBA small forward; he’s got the height (6’8’), insane length (7’2.5” wingspan), tons of vertical pop, great footspeed for his size, and he’s already got plenty of muscle for his age. He was a terror on the drive in college, and can be so in the NBA once he learns to battle with guys equally as strong as he is. All of that potential, though, depends on the health of his knee (more on that later).
OG was a major threat in transition, a 6’8 force who could keep up with his guards and provide a big time dunking threat. On straight line cuts, he was excellent as well, and shows a willingness and ability to play through contact and finish at the rim strong. You’d hope someone with OG’s physical profile could be a threat on the post-up, and while the raw numbers and film show he can be (98th percentile for post-up success)… that came on 15 total possessions on the year. His handles are also not dependable at this stage of his career, and his 15% turnover rate (2.6 per 40 minutes) is pretty bad for his usage rate (20%).
Anunoby’s offensive ceiling comes down to his ability to turn his tantalizing jump shot into a proven skill… and that’s not a real confidence at this point. His shooting motion isn’t completely defined yet, but he had moderate success in the midrange; 72nd percentile for spot-up shots, and 75th percentile for catch-and-shoot shots… but it’s key to point out both of these came with less than 45 such possessions on the year.
He was hailed as a potential 3-and-D guy, and Tom Crean let him shoot deep without many restrictions but that 3-point shot never consistently materialized; 2.8 attempts per game only netted a 31.1% success rate. Even worse, he finished the year at 56.3% from the free throw line, and his 3 attempts per game were disappointingly low considering someone with his physical playing style and usage rate.
OG might cause his future team some headaches while they figure out what to do with him offensively until either his shot develops or his handle massively improves (to complement his driving/post skills). But at the very worst, he’s a capable transition player with flashes of potential elsewhere on offense.
Given his physical make-up, turbo-driven motor, and the intensity he displayed in college, Anunoby’s potential on defense is what defines him as a prospect. He’s a disruptive defender who relished the few opportunities for bigger matchups. He is the latest model of the modern age big defender; his size, strength, and length will allow him to play power forward and even small ball center (although playing next to Thomas Bryant didn’t give him much of a chance to try that at Indiana). In a league that stresses defensive versatility and small-ball defensive value, his potential to handle forwards, box up against many centers, and even stay close to some guards, will keep him on the floor even if his offense takes a while to transition.
Like many of the prospects in the class, he’s driving on instincts at this point, and not so much actual awareness… but no one in the lottery range besides Josh Jackson and Jonathan Isaac have his potential on defense. It’s also important to point out he’s just as young as most of the freshman in the class (he’ll turn 20 just after being drafted).
Anunoby is a very capable rebounder, snagging 5.4 a game (8.7 per 40 minutes with a 16.1% defensive rebounding rate). His ability to muscle up to forwards and not give up the rebounding battle will go a long way to him defining his role in the NBA. It’s imperative his rebounding transition and transition quickly if he’s going to provide value early in his career.
The full-extent of Anunoby’s season-ending ACL injury that cost him half the season is being kept quiet (as it should be), but teams will obviously need to properly evaluate him before selecting him. Teams haven’t been all that shy lately about taking injured players in their relative pre-injury draft ranges (Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Chris LaVert), so it might not cost Anunoby a lottery spot. But it’s certainly a major concern for a young player who depends on his athleticism for so much of his game.
While I have less concerns about Anunoby’s motor than many in his draft range, there’s no question that he had some inconsistency in his play on both ends of the court. Indiana was verging on a mess before his injury and went fully into self-destruction after he left; it wasn’t the best situation for young guy trying to figure out his offense as the team utterly lacked any pure ball-handler (Indiana finished ranked 89th for assists on the year). A ton could be hidden in his offensive game, but he lacks the feel for the game that many of the forwards in the lottery (Josh Jackson, Tatum, Isaac, Lauri Markkanen, Justin Jackson) possess, so he truly is a work in progress. That said, when his motor was running, it was running HOT, and his potential versatility on defense combined makes him a lottery selection to me.
Fit with Sacramento:
Given the Kings collection of potential-versatile defenders (Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere), OG would add one more layer of multi-positional defense. The hyper versatility, length, and footspeed that the Kings could throw out with OG playing alongside Malachi Richardson (6’5, 7’0” wingspan), Skal (6’11, 7.25”), and Willie Trill (7’1, 7’3”) is staggering to think about; again, potential is the key word, but Anunoby is that strong a defensive prospect.
On offense, adding another forward who isn’t a great shooter OR a go-to offensive threat wouldn’t be a fantastic fit for Sacramento. OG’s shooting concerns are further compounded if the team ends up with De’Aaron Fox at No. 5; that would leave only the Kings shooting guard trio and Skal as the floor spacers.
If Anunoby’s agent want to keep him out of Sacramento, all he needs to do is not let the team have access to OG’s medical information or let them evaluate him in person. The talent is certainly tantalizing, especially given the team’s need at the position, but the risk may outweigh the reward with such a big question mark.