Now that the season has come to an end for the Toronto Raptors, we're taking the next week to grade how each key player on this season's team performed in the playoffs, from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam to Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka.
After taking a look at Lowry, Siakam and Fred VanVleet, we shift the focus to OG Anunoby.
It's amazing how quickly a series can change.
Trailing by two points with 0.5 seconds remaining in Game 3 of their second-round series with the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors faced the prospect of going down 3-0, a hole no team in NBA history has ever crawled out of.
By now, you know what happened next: Kyle Lowry launched a crosscourt pass over Tacko Fall to OG Anunoby for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that caught the attention of everyone in the basketball world. It won't go down as the greatest shot in Raptors history - you didn't forget about Kawhi Leonard's game-winning buzzer-beater against the Philadelphia 76ers last season, did you? - but it's certainly up there.
Still in awe of OG's buzzer beater in Game 3 🤯@Raptors vs. Celtics // 6:30pm ET on TNT pic.twitter.com/1XomXfF4Rk- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 5, 2020
While the Raptors still went on to lose the series, Anunoby's game-winner breathed new life into them. They went from facing the possibility of being swept out of the playoffs for the fourth time in franchise history to forcing a Game 7 in what felt like a blink of an eye. The Celtics gave them an inch and the Raptors almost took a mile.
MORE: The details behind Anunoby's game-winner
When we look back at these playoffs for Anunoby specifically, his game-winner is always going to be the first thing that will come to mind, but it shouldn't be the only thing that comes to mind.
Defensively, he was as good as advertised. If you look at his defensive matchups against the Brooklyn Nets and Celtics, one thing becomes clear: Anunoby can guard pretty much anyone, no matter how big or small.
In the first round, he alternated between guarding Caris LeVert, Garrett Temple, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Jarrett Allen - three guards and a centre. In the second round, he spent time on Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis and Kemba Walker - two guards, two forwards and a centre.
Based on the matchup data, the only player who had any sort of success against Anunoby was Brown.
Anunoby's versatility showed in Game 6 and Game 7, as Raptors head coach Nick Nurse closed both games with Anunoby in place of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka at centre. If Anunoby wasn't able to guard all five positions, going small wouldn't have even been an option.
MORE: Anunoby is a defensive mastermind
Offensively, Anunoby surpassed expectations. He knocked down 41.5 percent of his 3-point attempts on decent volume in the playoffs, giving the Raptors a reliable shooter alongside Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. Additionally, Anunoby showed some encouraging signs of growth as a creator, whether it was with the occasional post-up when a smaller player switched onto him, dribbling his way into a more open jump shot or making defenders pay for running him off the 3-point line with an aggressive drive to the rim.
Anunoby even had a couple of nice passes, this one from Toronto's Game 6 win over Boston standing out because of the degree of difficulty and because it created one of the biggest shots of the game:
Anunoby has yet to put it all together offensively - he's still very much a 3-point shooter who is dabbling his feet in the playmaking waters - but he's shown that he has the skills to develop into something much more than a spot-up threat. His timing couldn't be better, as Anunoby is now eligible to sign an extension.
The Raptors have good reason to wait until next offseason to sign him to an extension, but if his play in these playoffs was any indication of what's to come, that extension is certainly not going to be cheap.
Playoff Grade: A-
Regular Season Grade: B-
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