Anunoby taken 23rd overall by Toronto, Bryant headed to Lakers

OG Anunoby is going to Canada and Thomas Bryant is going to Hollywood.

The former Hoosiers both found new homes during Thursday’s NBA Draft. With the 23rd overall pick, the Toronto Raptors selected Anunoby and made him the 25th all-time IU player taken in the first round.

Bryant had to wait until the second round, going to the Utah Jazz with the 42nd overall pick. Bryant’s ultimate destination, however, is the Los Angeles Lakers. He’ll join that team once a trade with Utah is finalized.

This year’s draft marked the first time since 2014 that Indiana had a player selected. Noah Vonleh, who was taken by the Charlotte Hornets three years ago, was the Hoosiers’ last draft choice entering the night.

Projected as a mid-first round pick in most, if not all, mock drafts, Anunoby dropped toward the bottom of the 30-pick first round.

After missing most of Big Ten play due to a season-ending knee injury suffered on Jan. 18, Anunoby is hopeful he’ll be cleared to return to action in either October or November.

“I think (the injury) affected my draft, but everything happens for a reason,” Anunoby said on ESPN moments after Toronto selected him. “I’m happy to be playing for the Raptors now.”

Toronto, which is positioned to win now, seems to be a good fit for a player like Anunoby, who still needs to develop a more consistent offensive game, on top of returning from knee surgery. Once he returns from the injury, the Raptors won’t need to force him into a prominent role immediately, giving the rangy 6-foot-8 forward ample room to grow.

“You can’t put a timeline on when he’s gonna be back,” said former IU coach Tom Crean, who served as an analyst on The Vertical’s live draft coverage. “It can’t be a rush with him. He wants to rush, but you can’t have that. There’s got to be a real plan for him. There’s got to be real player development for him. I would bet in both cases, that’s the case in Toronto.”

Anunoby, who made merely 10 career starts for the Hoosiers, averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds during his sophomore season. Viewed as a “3-and-D” prospect at the next level, Anunoby was a 36 percent career shooter from beyond the arc during his season and a half in an IU uniform.

After making 13 of his 29 3-point attempts as a freshman, Anunoby shot 31 percent from distance across the 16 games he played as a sophomore.

Crean said he anticipates Anunoby’s offensive game growing at the next level.

“He just got better and better and better and is going to get the offensive flow,” Crean said. “He’s a much better shooter than people think, and better than his percentages would show. It really hurt us when he went down.”

At the same time, there are questions Anunoby will have to answer about his offensive upside in the NBA. Draft Express director of scouting Mike Schmitz said Anunoby will need to develop better feel for the game on the offensive end of the floor.

“Being able to make quick reads and being able to find guys on the move, I think that’s going to be a progression for him, especially if he’s expected to play on the wing,” Schmitz said. “I think he’s probably going to need to get better at that. But with his size and length, he can play a lot at the four. He’s almost a modern four given how strong he is and that plus-7 (foot) wingspan. The feel for the game, and maybe the ball skills could use some work, but building off that shooting, I think, will be key for him.”

Anunoby was the second Big Ten player drafted, going six picks after Milwaukee selected Michigan’s D.J. Wilson. Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan was the third conference player selected, going to Portland with the No. 26 overall pick.

Bryant, a third team All-Big Ten selection, started all 69 games he played during his two years at Indiana. As a sophomore this past season, Bryant averaged 12.6 points and shot 38 percent (23-for-60) from 3-point range.

Viewed as a first-round talent after his freshman year, Bryant’s stock slipped after an inconsistent second season in Bloomington.

“He’s a really hard worker,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “His mobility on the perimeter is a little bit of an issue, but he moves laterally really well. He really worked hard in his time at Indiana to become a better player, getting up and trying to guard pick and rolls and doing everything that was asked of him. … I think he can improve substantially going forward.”

James Blackmon Jr. went undrafted, but agreed to a free agent deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

6 comments

  1. Wow…Great opportunity for Thomas. A lot of buzz around the Lakers right now.

    Bryant has tons of untapped potential. He has a quality perimeter shot. He could really skyrocket …..and skyrocket quickly.

    My only real disappointment with NBA draft night is the fact they don’t play this tune when the ‘selections’ come to stage(some of you older fogies may recognize this from ‘The Dating Game’).

  2. Great to see that OG was a first rounder, Thomas a second rounder, and James an early free agent pick. Congratulations to each! It makes IU’s dismal finish last season that much harder to justify knowing that we had the talent. With an energized, dynamic new coach; 3 very good recruits; and a nice mix of experience and youth on a 12 man squad I am excited about this season!

  3. It makes IU’s dismal finish last season that much harder to justify knowing that we had the talent.

    Huh….? May I play the role of Scoop’s very own Edgar Allan Poe-dunker for just a moment?

    We didn’t have the services of OG from January on! Hartman was out for the entire season? Did you watch the NBA draft show? Did you not here Michael Wilbon(long time ESPN sports journalist most known for his gig on ‘Pardon the Interruption’ with Tony Kornheiser) give his answer to “What happened to Indiana last year?” Wilbon: “OG Anunoby…..That’s what happened.”

    Crean should have never been fired. He had assembled a Final Four team…but was struck by the happenstance of bad luck injuries to two key players. Hartman would have been the grit and glue…He’s the shooter that also does all the little things not in the stat sheets. OG was the clampdown defender…He was the guy who can mix it up at any position on the floor…He was our Kevin Durant. Just the sort of guy who gives you length and impossible match-up nightmare for opponents. Crean has his first Hoosier banner without those two injuries. Get real, Purdue fan. It was a crime and a disgrace to put the downward spiral of 2016-17 onto Tom Crean.

  4. Crean said. “He’s a much better shooter than people think, …….. It really hurt us when he went down.” Oh come on now Tom, stop making excuses. Every college basketball team suffers injuries to their most talent player, and the teams with good coaches don’t let a little thing like that affect their performance. And every Hoosier fan (i.e., basketball expert) knows that OG’s injury had little to do with how IU’s season turned out. You should have had another 5-star/McDonald’s All American on the bench ready to replace OG when he went down with that season-ending injury. Your team should not have missed a beat just because a future first round draft pick got hurt just as the Big Ten season began. Why would a season ending injury to a player who would be drafted in the first round, in spite of a serious knee injury, have affected your team’s performance? Excuses, excuses!

  5. Puzzling isn’t it? …..Dozens upon dozens of programs/coaches can recruit talent that will end up first round draft picks. Dozens upon dozens could do it at a place with a platform of b-ball passion like Indiana. If only banners had some correlation to how many teenagers you can turn into multi-millionaires. I wonder how many of those coaches who have the “made multiple kids into b-ball millionaires” credits on their coaching resume could claim to have visited at least one Elite 8 in the span of 10 years?
    If you’re trying to claim the OG injury made for the OG Anomolyunoby absence of Crean enjoying the ‘Land of Banners,’ you must explain what happened during the “everything hinges” years…or when we had healthy lottery picks appearing as manikins against Syracuse.

    And if all reasonable and rational eyes can see with all obviousness how Crean was unfairly judged, where are the reasonable AD’s and top programs more than anxious to get this X’s and O’s genius back to the hardwood?

  6. The IU men’s basketball team including coaching staff did not have their respective heads in the game. Rather, everyone went on their own individual path.

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