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OG Anunoby: Key to the Knicks' Recent Success

OG Anunoby dunks over Rudy Gobert in his first game as a Knick in early January / Photo: Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The lights aren't too bright for newcomer OG Anunoby. Since his arrival in New York at the turn of the New Year, the Knicks are playing their best basketball of the season. They are 12-2 since his arrival and show no signs of slowing down as the league inches closer to the All-Star break in mid-February.

Anunoby is the piece Tom Thibodeau needed

Thibs was smiling ear to ear when he joined last Thursday's postgame press conference after the Knicks absolutely clobbered the defending champion Nuggets at the Garden. He had good reason to be happy, because his team is currently winning games at a rate that they haven't all season.

The X-factor in this sudden surge has been OG Anunoby. His consistency, along with a crazy +/- of 252 since arriving in New York, has helped light a fire under the Knicks. Standing at 6'7" and 240 lbs, Anunoby is the type of player Thibs has yearned for on this team. His build and style of play are eerily similar to former wing Luol Deng, a key piece to those Thibodeau Bulls teams in the early 2010s.

Taking a look at his splits during his time with the Raptors this season compared his first 14 games with the Knicks, the results are pretty cool. His Knicks stats are bound to level off as he plays in more games, but he has undoubtedly brought his game to another level since his New York debut.

He has already amassed more blocks in 14 games with the Knicks than in the previous 27 with the Raptors. His six steals the other night against Denver helped bring his total with the Knicks to 25. Anunoby is a tenacious defender and Thibs' defensive scheme is playing into his skillset, unlocking his full potential.

Only up from here

The Knicks now sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference after rattling off six straight wins. They are a half game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers who sit behind them in fifth. This streak to begin the New Year has catapulted the Knicks into an increased discussion between NBA talking heads that they may be the real deal. The East needs to be on watch for the Knicks.

OG Anunoby is the glue the Knicks needed to really contend this year and the trade is paying dividends early. He has directly impacted games, especially in big moments such as that block in the game against the Nets this past week. He recorded four steals in that game as well. He is a master on the defensive end.

That block led to a huge bucket down the stretch in Brooklyn and ultimately helped seal a win for the Knicks when they looked all but down and out.

The OG Anunoby effect is real and it's just getting started. His 3-and-D build and play style fit right into Thibs' system. It should be awesome to see how the team continues to play with him in the lineup throughout the duration of this season.

Julius Randle's injury in yesterday's game against the Heat will certainly lead to a loss of efficiency on the offensive end, and Anunoby may be asked to do a bit more on that side of the ball. On the bright side, the loss of Randle won't affect the Knicks' defensive efficiency, so it will be telling to see how Thibs uses Anunoby in the offensive game plan moving forward.


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