Raptors see Anunoby as a good fit for future

By the end of Thursday’s NBA Draft, Dwane Casey felt good.

Maybe more than anything, he felt lucky.

For the Toronto Raptors’ coach, getting former Indiana forward OG Anunoby with the No. 23 overall pick felt like a steal.

“If it wasn’t for his injury, he would’ve gone a lot higher,” Casey said. “He’s one of the guys our scouts targeted and, luckily, he fell to us. There were a lot of teams behind us that were salivating to get him.”

Now that the Raptors have one of their targeted prospects, the team plans to take a patient approach with Anunoby, who is still in the recovery process after suffering a season-ending knee injury with Indiana on Jan. 18.

Even with the necessarily slow and deliberate approach, Toronto officials look at what they know of Anunoby — his film, his measurements and his skill set — and see a player who fits what they want for the years to come.

“We valued him,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. “We sat at 23 and waited. We had a couple guys that we liked and we were lucky, I think. Obviously, if he doesn’t have that injury, I don’t think we have a shot.”

Meeting with local media in Toronto on Friday afternoon, Anunoby guessed he may have gone somewhere in the top five had he not sustained his injury. The answer will never be known.

Regardless, Toronto feels like it dipped into the lottery picks to select a player it can groom for the future.

From watching film, Casey was most impressed with Anunoby’s ability to switch and guard any player on the floor. Casey sees that carrying over to the NBA level, where he expects Anunoby will also be capable of covering positions one through five.

Entering the draft, Toronto also needed shooting — particularly from long range. During this year’s playoffs, the Raptors were among the least efficient 3-point shooting teams in the field, shooting 33 percent in 10 postseason games.

Can Anunoby help? Maybe.

The 6-foot-8 forward made 13 of his 29 attempts from 3-point range as a freshman. Though once he became a higher volume shooter as a sophomore, his success rate dropped to 31 percent (14-for-45).

The Raptors don’t seem discouraged.

“His shot’s not broken,” Casey said. “Just like a lot of young players, he just needs repetition and to get in the gym and work on it. That’s something he can do now as he’s going through his rehab and is working on his shot mechanics. His release, it’s there.

“The thing you can’t teach in that situation is the motor, the toughness and the physicality, the size at that position — what we call the power three. The shot is something that a lot of young players have to work on, anyway.”

Anunoby had a couple meetings with Raptors officials before the draft, including one within the past week.

From those interactions, Anunoby said he had a feeling he might be heading to Toronto should he still be available at pick No. 23.

“I was in Toronto a couple days ago,” Anunoby said. “My rehab, I’m two months ahead of schedule right now. I’m starting to do a lot more on the court. I started running. I should be back full go October, November.”

Even so, the Raptors may not be in any rush to push him back.

“I’ll go by our doctors,” Ujiri said. “(Not) Dr. OG.”

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