TORONTO—The Toronto Raptors believe they landed one of the most versatile defenders in last night's NBA draft when injured forward OG Anunoby fell to No. 23.
“Obviously if he doesn't have that injury, I don't think we have a shot,” said Raptors' president Masai Ujiri.
The 6'8" athletic combo forward averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in his sophomore season at Indiana, but his college career was cut short when he tore his ACL in January.
“There were a lot of teams right behind us that were salivating to get him and we were lucky he fell to us at 23,” echoed Raptors' coach Dwane Casey.
“He can guard one through five, easily," Casey added. ”He's a P.J. Tucker clone, practically.
“That's something that gives us some toughness and ability to switch things defensively,” he noted.
“His size and strength and athleticism is a huge plus for us.”
Anunoby met with the Raptors in Toronto a couple of days ago, and was in Brooklyn for draft night.
When asked what he could bring to a Toronto team that made the playoffs for a fourth-straight season, and is perhaps a piece or two away from an Eastern Conference championship, Anunoby replied, “A versatile wing defender that can defend multiple positions, and on offence hit open shots, cut to the basket, and then just create havoc on defence.”
Anunoby, who boasts an impressive 7'2" wingspan, played just 16 games this past season, and the injury added plenty of mystery around his stock heading into the draft.
The injury prevented him from participating in any pre-draft workouts, but he said his rehabilitation is “two months ahead of schedule.”
“I'm starting to do a lot more on the court, I started running,” Anunoby noted.
“I should be back full go [in] October, November.”
Ujiri said the team has studied “lots of videos of his workouts, so we felt comfortable, our doctors felt comfortable.”
Anunoby gives Toronto some breathing room with forwards Serge Ibaka, Tucker, and Patrick Patterson all becoming unrestricted free agents as of July 1.
Dillon Brooks of Mississauga, Ont., a forward out of the University of Oregon, was selected 45th overall by the Houston Rockets, then traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.
He was the only Canadian to be picked in this year's draft.
The Philadelphia 76ers took Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick and the L.A. Lakers followed by taking Lonzo Ball, with the point guards from the Pac-12 Conference beginning a run of seven-straight freshmen.
Nine of the first 10 selections played just one season of college ball.
A record 16 first-year players went overall in the first round.