Indiana Hoosiers sophomore OG Anunoby is declaring for the NBA Draft, per ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
Anunoby came onto the NCAA scene as an average recruit from Jefferson City, Missouri. His freshman season showed promise, and he averaged 4.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in just 13.7 minutes of action. Playing in the Big Ten at one of the most storied programs in college basketball history gave everyone plenty of chances to lay their eyes on Anunoby, and he quickly started to rocket up draft boards as a sophomore.
Unfortunately, he missed about half of this past campaign because of knee surgery, but the leap he made from last year to this one is impossible to gloss over. Thanks to an NBA-ready body and incredible athleticism, Anunoby upped his scoring to 11.1 points a night, and he continued to rebound at a high rate with 5.4 per game. Those were fourth and third on the team, respectively.
Also Read: Justin Jackson Is NBA Ready On Both Ends of the Floor
Tom Crean extended the leash, and it did nothing but make a case for Anunoby as a potential lottery pick, and he’s one of the best 15 players in the class despite not having suited up since mid-January. DraftExpress ranks him 14th overall, and there’s nothing not to like about him.
What immediately jumps out at you is his frame, and he’s built like a grown man despite being 19-years-old. At 6-8, 215, Anunoby can bounce back-and-forth between both forward spots and maybe even shooting guard if the lineup calls for it. Additionally, he brings an unofficial 7-6 wingspan to the table, and that means that he can pretty much defend all five positions. (For context: Rudy Gobert has a 7-8.5 wingspan and is a seven-footer.)
All of those tools don’t mean anything if Anunoby can’t harness them, but he was arguably the Big Ten’s best defender last year — when he wanted to be — and was one of the conference’s three players to average at least one steal and one block per game:
If we adjust those numbers to per 40 minutes, Anunoby’s up to 2.1 for both steals and blocks. With his bald eagle-esque wingspan, he’s a terror in the passing lanes and around the basket, and it’s rare to find a forward who can alter shots at a rate similar to the NBA’s best centers. His unwavering aggressiveness forces turnovers and leads to easy buckets, but it also gets him into foul trouble. It was much more noticeable during his first year with Indiana, and Anunoby’s done a terrific job becoming more disciplined, and his fouls per game have fallen from 4.5 to 3.3 when going per 40 minutes.
His defensive potential is enough for him to remain in the lottery, but it’s his offense that’s more intriguing.
Anunoby doesn’t have an actual game on offense; the ball finds him, and he gets high-percentage looks at the basket just by hanging out on the baseline and waiting for penetration. His perfect blend of explosiveness and size makes it easy for him to convert on the looks he gets, and Anunoby made 70.1 percent of his twos this year.
He doesn’t need to go around people because he can either go through them or above them. Once he starts going downhill off the dribble, it’s almost impossible to stop him, and he’s printed his fair share of posters this year.
Also Read: Frank Mason Could Be The Steal of This Draft
Anunoby’s dominance inside the paint negates his lack of a jump shot. His stroke needs work and a complete strip down at the next level could be necessary. Without a capable jumper, defenders will be able to lockdown Anunoby without a hassle because he’s reduced to a one-dimensional player, and they can overload the side he’s on because his passing skills aren’t that great.
Would there be benefits to staying with the Hoosiers for one more year? Certainly, but he’s somewhat NBA ready and has the potential to be a solid player down the line. The upside is just too grand. If he develops an average jumper and consistently plays at a high-level on defense, his NBA career is going to look entirely different.
Start a conversation with me on Twitter