Skip to content

Anunoby wants DPOY: 'Always thought I was the best defender in the league'

Vaughn Ridley / NBA / Getty Images

O.G. Anunoby is targeting individual hardware for his defensive acumen.

"I've always wanted to be Defensive Player of the Year," the Raptors forward said after Wednesday's 143-100 rout of the San Antonio Spurs, courtesy of The Toronto Star's Libaan Osman. "I've always thought I was the best defender in the league. Felt that for the last I don't know how many years."

The sixth-year forward is crafting a solid candidacy for the award early on. Through eight contests, Anunoby is totaling a league-best 2.9 steals per game, which would also go down as the best mark of his career.

His defensive impact on the Raptors is visible, too. Among all players on the squad with at least 200 minutes played, opponents post the worst scoring rate - 104.7 points per 100 possessions - when Anunoby is on the floor, according to When he sits, opponents post a 109.5 offensive rating, a minus-4.8 swing second only to Pascal Siakam's minus-5.2 (minimum 200 minutes played).

In order to stay in the running, though, Anunoby will need to maintain a clean bill of health all year. Since being drafted 23rd overall in 2017, the 25-year-old has eclipsed 70 games in a season just once, playing in 74 his rookie season. In the past two campaigns, he averaged just 45.5 games as various injuries kept him out of the lineup.

The last Raptor to win an individual end-of-season award was Scottie Barnes, who edged Cleveland Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley for the Rookie of the Year prize in April. However, no athlete in franchise history has ever been named the NBA's top defensive player.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox