Raptors trade rumors: Why Toronto should — and shouldn’t — explore moving OG Anunoby for lottery pick in 2022 NBA Draft

As trade rumors circulate, it’s only a matter of time before the 2022 NBA offseason is in full swing. Taking stock of these rumors, Raptors Forward OG Anunoby’s name has been mentioned a lot.

On May 31st Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report reported that “the word got around among rival front offices” that Anunoby had become “dissatisfied” with his role in Toronto, making him a desirable trade candidate this offseason. While it didn’t last long Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes comes on defense his teammate and refutes Fischer’s claims that Anunoby’s name continues to float around in trade hypotheses.

Fischer’s original report indicated that Portland would be a potential trading destination for Anunoby. Weeks later, Fischer added to that report during an appearance on the Dunc’d On Podcast that six-time All-NBA guard Damian Lillard was interested in playing with either Anunoby or Suns center Deandre Ayton next season.

The Trail Blazers, who are beginning to rebuild around Lillard, finished last season with a 27-55 record and looks set to pick seventh in the upcoming draft. Should Portland request to acquire a player of Anunoby’s caliber, it is expected to part with its lottery selection as part of the trade package.

That’s no secret either.

On Wednesday, Raptors assistant general manager Dan Tolzman was asked if he thought the franchise could draft another seventh-place Anunoby, to which he replied, “That would be really difficult.”

How difficult would it be to design a player of this caliber? Although the reports come from one source, there is reason to believe real talks between the front offices took place. And conversations could create movements.

Here’s why the Raptors should and shouldn’t investigate an Anunoby trade this offseason.

MORE: Why a Gobert trade makes sense for Raptors and why not

Why Raptors Should Explore a Trade With OG Anunoby

The Raptors are yet to peak with the current core of Anunoby, Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent Jr. and Fred VanVleet, but they’re getting closer.

Last season, the group surpassed to win 48 games and earn fifth place in the East, but even with Barnes’ inevitable progression to an All-Star, the franchise will still be a few steps from being a title contender again to become.

It takes value to get value, and Anunoby might end up being the underdog.

MORE: Raptor’s offseason outlook: Free agents, contracts, draft picks for 2022-23 NBA season

As impressive as Anunoby’s numbers were in 2021-22, they were above a small sample size of 48 games due to injuries. Additionally, some of Anunoby’s greatest performances were a product of his reinforcements when Siakam was sidelined earlier in the season. The assumption going forward is that Siakam will be healthy and Barnes will take on a bigger role, so circumstances may not allow Anunoby to come up with such numbers.

The Raptors have been conducting their due diligence ahead of the 2022 NBA draft and have reportedly met with lottery forecasters Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin, two players who will be long gone before Toronto picks at 33.

These meetings certainly add credibility to the notion that Toronto has been talking about moving up in this year’s draft.

MORE: What to think of Raptors meetings with draft prospects

Given Masai Ujiri’s near-unblemished track record, any deal to acquire a draft pick should be greeted with excitement. Raptors leadership would not enter into a deal on any selection without having a specific prospect in mind, and that prospect should be expected to expedite the franchise’s return to contender status.

Why Raptors Shouldn’t Explore a Trade With OG Anunoby

Players like Anunoby don’t come around that often.

Anunoby turns 25 this summer and is the perfect backup player in this league – that’s why every team would love to have him in their squad.

Each season, Anunoby has added something to his game. Last season he continued to develop on offense, making progress as a goalscorer and playmaker.

MORE: What grade did OG Anunoby get for the 2021-22 season?

Anunoby’s ability to defend multiple All-NBA-level positions makes him the type of player every championship team needs. Specific to the Raptors, the team’s defensive plans rely heavily on Anunoby’s size, strength, length, and defensive versatility — all traits that are almost impossible to replace.

Speaking of replacements…

As great as the Raptors’ front office is at evaluating talent, there are many variables outside of their control when it comes to the NBA draft. There is an element of luck associated with your desired prospect falling into your hands, and from there another element of luck with the circumstances that allow that prospect to grow into the player you envision.

Are you going with an unknown entity or proven contributor like Anunoby? You know what you’re getting from OG, and you know it’s not easy to replace.

OG Anunoby’s contract

After his third season, Anunoby signed a four-year contract extension worth $72 million to stay with the Raptors through at least the 2023-24 season. Anunoby has a player option for the 2024/25 season.

2022-23 2023-24 2024-25
AND Anunoby $17,357,143 $18,642,857 $19,928,571 (PO)

PO = player option

Raptors 2022 NBA draft picks

The Raptors currently have the 33rd pick in the 2022 NBA draft (via Pistons). Toronto does not have a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.

The Raptors included a protected first-round pick in 2022 in their deal with the Spurs, which earned them Thaddeus Young at the close of trade. Since it was protected 1-14 in 2022 and the Raptors made the playoffs, it will carry over this summer, meaning Toronto won’t have a first-round choice.

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