Raptors’ Nick Nurse addresses rumor of OG Anunoby being unhappy with role

OG Anunoby’s name has been in the rumor mill this offseason.

Ahead of the 2022 NBA Draft, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that word had circulated among rival front offices that the Raptors’ forward “grew dissatisfied at times with his role in Toronto.”

While Fischer added that sources with knowledge of the dynamic said Anunoby had not “directly expressed discontent with his situation,” it sounds like he and Raptors head coach Nick Nurse have talked about his role on the team moving forward.

“I’ve had really good discussions with him a lot and had a really great end-of-season meeting with him, etcetera,” Nurse said in an interview with SiriusXM’s Justin Termine.

“I just tell him that a lot of times that role thing is usually they’re not getting enough shots, right, and he wants to be more a part of the offense. I certainly can help him with that, I can design plays, I can get him in situations, etcetera, but he’s kind of a working relationship that he’s got to go take some of that.

“We’re pretty, you know, if you grab a rebound, you can bring it up the floor and go make a play. If you’ve got mismatches, if you’ve got a chance to beat people, we want you to do that, and he’s talented enough to do it.

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“He’s come from, his starting and ending drives three years ago were shaky. Now, his first step is better, he gets to the finish, he puts you in the basket. He’s coming with some of that skill work, and he’s a 40 percent 3-point shooter. There’s a lot of guys out there — five guys out there — and on our team, all of them can score.

“We just got to maybe distribute it a little bit more and get him involved a little bit more. I think we can. I think he’s good enough to do it. And in saying all that, he’s a great defender. I really want him to continue to excel at taking the team’s best player and trying to shut them out.”

Injuries limited Anunoby to 48 games in 2021-22 but he still posted the best numbers of his career year, averaging career-highs of 17.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from 3 -point range. His usage rate — the percentage of team plays used by a player when they’re on the court — was also the highest of his career and trailed only Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. for most on the team.

To Nurse’s point, Anunoby is widely considered to be one of the best defenders in the league. He has yet to make an All-Defensive team, but he has received votes for the honor in each of the previous three seasons.

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The recently turned 25-year-old is a big part of Toronto’s present and future. He’s under contract for both the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons, and he has a player option worth $19.9 million for 2024-25.

In his initial report, Fischer wrote that if Anunoby did become available, “expect a long list of interested suitors.”

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