It’s been all sunshine and rainbows in the OG Anunoby era for the New York Knicks.
Winning each of their first five games since acquiring the star, head coach Tom Thibodeau has not let the impact of Anunoby’s play go unnoticed.
“Each day he’s more comfortable. I think he’s putting a lot of time in,” said Thibodeau following the Knicks 112-84 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, “He’s a great worker, very serious in his approach.”
The hard work put in by Anunoby is paying massive dividends for the entire Knicks lineup too. Anunoby became the first player in NBA history to have a plus/minus of over 100 in their first five games with a team.
His +111 since coming to New York is second in the league in that span, only trailing his teammate Isaiah Hartenstein who is a +125 in the last five games. The Knicks occupy five out of the top six spots in the league in terms of plus/minus over their five-game heater, showing they’re not only beating teams, they are dominating them.
“[Anunoby] comes back at night, comes early to watch film, he’s done a really good job,” Thibodeau said. “We’ve got a number of guys who are like that, so when you have a team that’s committed to playing for each other and committed to winning and putting the team first, good things come from that.”
The arrival of Anunoby has indeed produced good things. New York is on a season-best five-game win streak and has propelled themselves out of the play-in and into the fifth spot in the East. Anunoby has fit seamlessly into the Knicks system, sacrificing his normal volume, yet still finding ways to produce efficiently.
In 27 games in Toronto, Anunoby was averaging over 15 points per game and shooting 48.9% from the field and 37.4% from three. In five games so far with New York, he is averaging 14.2 points per game but shooting 54.9% inside the arc and 45.5% from distance. While taking nearly two shots less per game, Anunoby is currently the most efficient he has ever been in his career. With the volume Brunson and Randle demand on the offensive end, Anunoby’s efficient scoring is an essential piece to the Knicks’ offense.
The Anunoby effect has not gone unnoticed by Thibodeau, “For a guy like OG to come in and have the impact…when you look at his net rating per 48, it’s off the charts. And that’s playing well because it’s not only you, it’s what you’re doing with the group you’re on the floor with, and that’s the most important thing there is.”
Now, the Knicks will look to keep their win streak rolling in a part of their schedule where their next seven opponents are in the play-in or lower in the standings. This is a pivotal time for New York to stack wins and cement their spot as a top-six team in the East.
“The spirit of the team is really strong right now,” said Thibodeau, “The togetherness, the commitment to each other is very strong, and we gotta keep it there.”