Raptors’ Masai Ujiri: Rookie OG Anunoby ‘an unbelievable kid’

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri says the organization is super-excited about landing such a young talent like OG Anunoby late in the first round, and says they hope to develop him slowly through the system.

As the 2017-18 NBA season approaches, Toronto Raptors fans are hearing a lot about rookie OG Anunoby.

And for good reason—the 20-year-old could prove to be a draft steal, with Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey calling the small forward out of Indiana “a top-10 pick.”

“We got lucky,” Casey said after Wednesday’s 116-94 pre-season win over the Detroit Pistons in reference to selecting Anunoby 23rd overall at this year’s draft.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri joined The Starting Lineup Wednesday morning to talk about the upcoming campaign and share his thoughts on the development of Anunoby.

“We’re excited. We’re super excited and we feel we got lucky to get a player like that where we got him,” Ujiri said. “We had him ranked higher and it just, we feel blessed we are able to figure out a way to develop a young talent like that.”

Anunoby, 20, had a strong showing Wednesday night as he got his first NBA reps, and showed plenty of potential on both sides of the ball. (Sportsnet’s Michael Grange breaks down his multi-dimensional play here.) But while Ujiri is optimistic, he was careful not to get too far ahead of things Wednesday morning as Anunoby continues to regain his strength following a long recovery from a season-ending knee injury suffered in January.

“It’s going to come slow. He’s still trying to get his feet under him. We’re going to bring him on slowly,” Ujiri said. “He played in the scrimmage a couple weeks ago in Victoria and now he’s played in a game and we’ll continue to see how he reacts.

“Honestly, he’s been practising unbelievable, he’s been playing … those kind of injuries, you knock wood, you want him to get through it, and he’s done an excellent job this summer,” Ujiri explained. “Unbelievable work ethic, just an unbelievable kid who loves the game and is very competitive. Hopefully, I think when you look at it with the naked eye, you hope that you’ve found a talented young player that can grow in our program.”

Listen to the full discussion here:

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Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup
Looking ahead to the 2017-18 NBA season with Masai Ujiri
Originally aired October 11 2017