Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)
In the 2nd quarter of the Raptors’ 117-104 win over the Orlando Magic, rookie small forward OG Anunoby was forced to leave the game due to a right ankle injury. OG didn’t return for the 2nd half of that game and he didn’t play in win over the Wizards the following Friday, which ended his streak of starting all 60 games for the Raptors so far this season. There isn’t an update on whether or not Og will play on Sunday against Charlotte, but it appears that his injury isn’t too serious.
Regardless if OG is healthy enough to play or not, I don’t see any reason why the Raptors should play him in any of their next two games. Their next two games are against the Charlotte Hornets, who are 28-35, and the Atlanta Hawks, 19-44, and last in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors should have no problem winning those two games, regardless of whether or not OG plays. If he is healthy enough to play, what I would do is sit him out against Charlotte and Atlanta, and then bring him back to play on Wednesday in Detroit. This gives him the entire weekend to recover, and it also prevents him from playing in a back-to-back scenario on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In addition to the fact that the next 2 games are extremely winnable without OG, playing against these weak teams could be a good opportunity to get Normal Powell some more minutes, and try to build up his confidence. In the absence of OG, Powell has scored 0 points in a combined 28 minutes of play. He seems to be passing up some good shots, and it appears that his confidence level isn’t there right now, so maybe playing in a couple of home games against bad teams will give Norm the chance to break through and start knocking down some shots.
Since the Raptors have such a deep bench, they’re prepared for an injury like this. They have a guy like Norman Powell who can step in at any moment, and if that doesn’t work out - like it hasn’t recently - they’ve got C.J. Miles at their disposal as well, who went off last night for 20 points on 7-10 shooting. Obviously the Raptors would like to have OG back in the lineup, but right now, there’s no reason to rush him back. He was running into a bit of a rookie wall anyway, so some rest would’ve been important to him regardless. I say you ease him back into the lineup after a few games off, let Norm play in his absence, and get OG ready for his first NBA playoff run.
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