Recent reporting has the New Orleans Pelicans at the scene of the OG Anunoby sweepstakes. However, the bidding war may become too rich for the Pelicans’ blood, and the Toronto Raptors might roster a less resource-demanding alternative.
Anunoby is a tenacious defender who has improved his offensive game each season of his career, and he’s only 25 years old. But the Raptors don’t need to trade him (he’s under contract next season), and because of this, their asking price may be a bit too steep.
As Raptors’ beat writer Eric Koreen noted in an article with Pelicans’ writer Will Guillory, a trade between the two parties will likely need to include one of Trey Murphy III, Dyson Daniels, or the 2023 first-round pick owed to them by the Los Angeles Lakers.
With both Murphy III and Daniels demonstrating promising flashes and the Lakers’ pick projecting to be lottery-bound (in a highly-touted class), it doesn’t feel wise to part ways with any of these assets, even if it means acquiring a player of Anunoby’s caliber.
A safer option that makes the team better in the short-term without hemorrhaging young talent and draft capital would be to go after one of the other Raptors whose been made available, Gary Trent Jr.
He’s earned a reputation as a bucket-getting shooting star, capable of dazzling you with tough-shot making in one game and then killing you when those same arduous jumpers don’t fall in next.
But one thing about Trent’s game that is consistent, one thing that the Pelicans desperately need, is his catch-and-shoot three-point shooting.
As it stands, the Pelicans are 21st in the NBA in catch-and-shoot three-point percentage (35.9%). And guess what? Trent has converted those shots at a rate of over 40% in each of his last four seasons (per NBA.com).
This makes him the perfect counter for the paint-packing practices teams usually observe when defending the Pelicans. Now, when teams double Jonas Valanciunas in the post or collapse on Zion Williamson’s drives, they have another reliable outlet
who can burn them for over-helping.
Envision Trent capitalizing on sequences like this one right here:
He won’t give you the perimeter defense that Anunoby does (although he can rack up those deflections), but he doesn’t cost you nearly as much as Anunoby does either. And you also maintain future flexibility in the event that another enticing player becomes available.
The trade Koreen posited in that aforementioned included Devonte’ Graham, Jaxson Hayes, Naji Marshall, and a top-8 protected first-round pick in exchange for Trent and Malachi Flynn.
We can quibble at the margins (parting ways with Marshall would be especially difficult). But at the very least, you aren’t giving up any of the assets that you would have had to in the theoretical Anunoby deal.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how conversations between these two teams over the next couple of days unfold.