For weeks, O.G. Anunoby has been looming on the trade block as the Toronto Raptors continue regressing in the Eastern Conference standings. With Kyrie Irving being dealt to Dallas on Sunday, Anunoby returns as the “top prize” of this year’s trade deadline. Anunoby, only 25 years old, has already made a name for himself as one of the NBA’s best overall defenders. He leads the league in steals per game (2.1) – alongside Heat forward Jimmy Butler – and can hold his own against bigger frontcourt players as well.
At such a young age with defensive player of the year potential, Anunoby’s value is not cheap (not to mention he was a part of Toronto’s championship-winning roster in 2019 and shoots well from outside at 36%). According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Raptors are asking for three first-round picks in exchange for Anunoby. The Knicks, Suns, Grizzlies, and Pelicans are all seen as potential destinations for O.G. While this may seem like a steep offer for a player who averages just south of 17 points per game, Anunoby could drastically improve a team with championship aspirations.
Here are some potential trades I could see in exchange for Anunoby
Four Potential Trades for O.G. Anunoby
Making a Move With Memphis
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: O.G. Anunoby
Toronto Raptors Receive: Danny Green, David Roddy, and three first-round picks.
Anunoby pairs with blocks-per-game leader Jaren Jackson Jr. to create one of the scariest young defensive duos in the entire league. O.G. would also fit perfectly into a young Memphis timeline with Ja Morant (23), Desmond Bane (24), and Jaren Jackson Jr. (23). The Grizzlies also have young, promising talent in Ziaire Williams (21) and Brandon Clarke (26). However, Memphis might need to include Williams or Clarke if other teams offer a better package – which the Grizzlies can afford. The Western Conference is as wide open as it has been in years, and Memphis shouldn’t hesitate to add Anunoby to its budding young core. The only concern for Memphis would be their need for more veteran leadership. Steven Adams is really the only experienced veteran on what has been seen at times as a somewhat immature roster.
O.G. Anunonby to New Orleans?
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: O.G. Anunoby
Toronto Raptors Receive: Devonte Graham, Dyson Daniels, and three first-round picks.
Like Memphis, New Orleans has a boatload of assets to offer. However, the Pelicans have significantly more first-round picks (including the Lakers’ 2023 first) in addition to young players like Trey Murphy, Herb Jones, Jaxson Hayes, and (in this trade) rookie Dyson Daniels. New Orleans is in a similar situation with Memphis because Anunoby fits the Pelicans’ young timeline and has no pressure to win now. The only concern about acquiring O.G. is that the Pelicans don’t necessarily need him. There are bigger holes to fill, for example, backcourt depth in a season where CJ Mccollum has shown signs of regression (is Jose Alvardo really the Pelicans franchise point guard?). Herb Jones already provides the skills that Anunoby has as a young, elite defender. Nonetheless, the thought of having Jones and Anunoby on the same roster is nothing short of a nightmare for opposing teams.
A Four-Way Trade?
Toronto Raptors Receive: Deandre Ayton, one first-round pick (via PHX)
Indiana Pacers Receive: Jae Crowder, Thaddeus Young
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Dario Saric, two first-round picks (via PHX)
Phoenix Suns Receive: O.G. Anunoby, Jakob Poeltl, and Daniel Theis
Whew! Everyone settle down. I can explain this.
Why Phoenix Says Yes:
Phoenix adds essential depth to their rotation with Anunoby, Poeltl, and Theis, who recently returned from a knee injury. Monty Willimas would have to decide to either start Anunoby alongside fellow three-and-D wing Mikal Bridges or bring O.G. off the bench while Cam Johnson remains in the starting lineup. Poeltl is a reliable two-way big who can replace Ayton while Theis gets some minutes off the bench. Again, with the West wide-open (and the history of new ownership eager to make transactions), this would be the time for the Suns to pounce on adding an elite defender. Are Ayton, Crowder, and the three firsts too much? Probably, but it’s the trade deadline – let’s get spicy!
Why Toronto Says Yes:
Instead of acquiring their coveted three first-round draft picks, the Raptors receive a promising former first-overall big in Deandre Ayton. Alongside Scottie Barnes (and whoever Toronto receives from possibly dealing Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam), Deandre Ayton would be a cornerstone piece to an on-the-fly rebuild for the Raptors.
Why Indiana Says Yes:
They don’t lose anything! The Pacers are in need of wings to fit alongside a budding backcourt of Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, and Andrew Nembhard. Though Crowder and a reunion with Thaddeus Young don’t match Indiana’s young timeline, they can serve as key development fits for their youth movement. If all doesn’t go well with Crowder after the trade, the journeyman forward can leave this Summer because he’s on an expiring deal.
Why San Antonio Says Yes:
The Spurs asking price for Jakob Poeltl has been reported to be two-first round picks. San Antonio gains two firsts from Phoenix here.
A New York Trade in Mind
New York Knicks Receives: O.G. Anunoby
Toronto Raptors Receives: Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, and three first-round picks.
Is it finally time for the Knicks to make a legitimate push to be competitive? The answer is yes. If there’s one thing New York head coach Tom Thibodeau likes, it’s defense (he also prefers veteran players over potential-filled players, unfortunately). Anunoby would plop into a starting rotation with Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson (when healthy) giving the Knicks a rock-solid starting lineup without giving away too much bench depth either. Though the Eastern Conference is as competitive as we’ve seen for a while, New York would have the timeline to compete for years to come.