Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
The 25-year-old former first-round pick led the Association in steals in the 2022-23 season (1.9 per game average) while doing battle with some of the game’s greatest players. But it wasn’t just Anunoby getting the job done on the back end for Toronto, as the Raptors finished head and shoulders above the rest of the pack with 9.4 steals per game – over one full steal above the second-best club.
The 6-foot-7, 235-pound shooter was given 14 first-team votes, while also being voted upon 53 times for his second-team placement.
Full voting results: https://t.co/RF5QCGQ62x pic.twitter.com/Cy06fZEJq9
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 9, 2023
The other four players joining the British forward on the All-Defensive Second Team are Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, Miami Heat centre Bam Adebayo, Boston Celtics guard Derrick White and Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks of nearby Mississauga, Ontario.
Beating out Anunoby for First Team honours were Milwaukee Bucks centre Brook Lopez and guard Jrue Holiday, Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr.
Anunoby is just the second Raptor all-time to secure an NBA All-Defensive Team award, joining Kawhi Leonard from the 2018-19 season. The sixth-year Raptor is the first player in franchise history to lead the league in steals per game and total steals recorded (128).
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He is also the first Toronto player since Marcus Camby to lead the league in one of the five major statistical categories. Camby led the NBA in blocks during the 1997-98 season. He sadly did not earn a nod on either of the All-Defensive Teams thanks to the Raptors’ dismal 16-66 record.
“The first thing I’d like to say is I think he really responded well to some adversity this season,” former head coach Nick Nurse said of Anunoby’s play after the team’s final game of the season. “First and foremost, I thought once the trade deadline passed, he really did a really professional job of playing very well, both sides of the ball. I think he started shooting and scoring better but he really had some really tough defensive assignments night after night after night.”
Anunoby beat out Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo by just 21 points for the final spot on the team.
That ‘snub’ apparently was the last straw for the two-time NBA MVP. Coupled with Milwaukee’s early postseason exit and the firing of long-time head coach Mike Budenholzer, Antetokounmpo shared a short message on his personal Twitter page following the league’s announcement.
“I’m tired of the disrespect,” Antetokounmpo shared. “I’m coming.”
OG Anunoby 😈🔒
– NBA Steals Champion
– All-Defensive Team
– NBA Champion
– 1/14 active players with a playoff game winner
– Most versatile defender in the league
And he's only 25 🚀 pic.twitter.com/0ZRwpLfVtA
— S⚡️ (@WestSS_101) May 9, 2023
On top of the major win as the league’s steal leader, Anunoby also finished second in the league in deflections, while leading Toronto in defensive win shares.
Anunoby usually faced his opponent’s top player on a nightly basis and was tasked with keeping their production at a minimum. And for the most part, he succeeded. He also collected 16.8 points per game, five rebounds, and a two-assist average in 67 games this past season.
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