Normally, under circumstances like these, Anunoby would historically throw the shot, if he was convinced he had enough daylight to make a good attempt, or was looking to pass out if he wasn’t as well. confident.
As the shot clock narrowed down to one number in possession, Davis chose to shut Anunoby more aggressively by taking an aggressive step towards him when he received the ball preparing to do a shooting contest, only something completely. different happened.
As soon as the Raptors forward touched the ball, he immediately knocked it down as he walked towards the key, surprising Davis and forcing him to get back on his heels a bit. Then Anunoby hit Davis with another surprise when he turned his right shoulder and got a left-handed dismissal so quickly the selection of the three-time fully defensive team could do was stop and watch the ball. gently kissed on the glass and fell gently into the hoop, as the Raptors launched into an explosive 10-0 run to start the game.
That Anunoby’s streak was part of a 23-point blast from the third-year forward who saw him go 8 of 9 from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from three points in the contest. Saturday, and it acts as a perfect microcosm of the kind of leap Anunoby has taken as a player since the season hiatus.
Now confident in his ability to put the ball to the ground and in his ball handling, Anunoby has unlocked a whole new dimension in his game and he and the Raptors can only benefit.
Take another look at this move Anunoby punched Davis with and you’ll instantly understand why. Davis turned to Anunoby expecting the three-point attempt because that’s what he normally would – something Anunoby took full advantage of by choosing to drive. With this new wrinkle in his game, defenders now have to think twice before shutting him down hard, opening up so much more for Anunoby offensively than ever before.
In particular, it adds a new layer to what the Raptors may be looking to do offensively in terms of options with Anunoby on the floor.
Take a look at these two clips below:
Anunoby was fouled in the second clip you see above and hit both free throws. But more importantly, in these two clips, we can see Anunoby in the exact same spot in the right corner, but choosing to do two different offensive actions depending on the scenario at hand, resulting in good, effective results for them. Raptors.
As a 39% three-point shooter, the corners are exactly where the Raptors typically want Anunoby to be spaced out in offensive possessions. And with the improved grip he flashed, opponents now have to worry about not only smart cuts or three-point shooting when Anunoby is down, but also the possibility that he can get in and head to the rack, or kick out to an open man.
This made him much more dangerous and further adds to the Raptors’ versatility on offense, adding another ball handler to their mix.
This improved grip that Anunoby flashed against the Lakers was first on display during the Raptors melee and it’s something Anunoby said he worked all year, the fruits of that labor didn’t are harvested only now.
Better yet for the Raptors, all that extra work Anunoby does to improve the attacking side hasn’t come at the expense of his defense.
LeBron James’ main defender on Saturday night, Anunoby was seen frustrating James throughout the game, denying him the ball, forcing him to take jumpers out of rhythm and even straight up, forcing James to a hard gaze – even when you stand only three feet from the basket.
That’s Anunoby’s main role on the Raptors, as someone the team can reliably put on the opposing team’s best player and ask to put the pincers on him. Take a three-point shot and the hope was still that the Raptors would have a high-end three-and-D option on their hands.
Now, however, with the improvements Anunoby has made to his ball handling and what this has opened up for him and the Raptors, it might be more appropriate to raise Anunoby’s ceiling to a player who one day might be able to play the main role. club.
For now, if the Raptors need a tertiary scoreline, or if Kyle Lowry and / or Pascal Siakam don’t on a given night, Anunoby is a guy they can look for to fill that void.