When the news broke Friday afternoon that OG Anunoby would need knee surgery and would miss the rest of the season, I published the following on Twitter:
“I can confirm that OG Anunoby will have surgery on his knee and miss the rest of the season. Unlikely to play at IU again.”
In the minutes and hours that followed, my mentions were full of people reacting to the final sentence — “unlikely to play at IU again.” Some asked why I believed that Anunoby wouldn’t return. Many more told me I’m wrong, that there’s no way he’ll leave now.
Let me start by saying this: I’m not reporting that OG Anunoby will declare for the NBA Draft after this season. The young man has more important things to worry about right now, and there’s no way he’s made that decision yet.
My educated opinion, though, is that Anunoby will declare after this season. Twitter didn’t allow me to include enough characters to add the words “in my opinion” to that tweet, but I thought those words would be implied.
I don’t mind interacting with people on Twitter at all. I appreciate each and every person that follows me and reads this site, and I’m happy to have constructive conversations. You don’t have to agree with me — I simply use my social media accounts and this website to share with you what I think.
I don’t cover Indiana basketball on a full-time basis anymore, but I also don’t put out information or an opinion that isn’t backed by something or someone I trust. My conversations with those close to the program have led me to the educated opinion that Anunoby will forego his junior and senior seasons at Indiana and leave.
Is that a done deal? No. Do I think there’s any chance he comes back? Sure, it’s possible, but unlikely.
Anunoby is nowhere near ready for the NBA, there’s no doubt about it. But the NBA drafts on potential, and Anunoby has plenty of that. It doesn’t matter what your college numbers are, how raw you are, or whether or not you’re healthy — it’s all about the upside, the big picture.
Anunoby is still projected by most to be a lottery pick, and his knee injury, no matter how devastating for him and the Hoosiers, will not harm his draft stock in any significant way. To be honest, it could actually help Anunoby’s draft stock because NBA general managers will have less film to nitpick on.
Look at recent history:
- The Philadelphia 76ers took Joel Embiid with the 3rd overall pick despite the fact Embiid missed the Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament in his only year at Kansas due to a stress fracture in his back. The Sixers ended up waiting two full seasons for Embiid to play a single minute after he suffered injuries to his feet.
- The Sixers drafted Nerlens Noel via the New Orleans Pelicans 6th overall in the 2013 draft even though Noel tore his ACL in February and missed the rest of the season.
- Kyrie Irving went No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011 despite missing almost his entire freshman season at Duke due to a severe ligament issue in his toe.
- Marvin Williams didn’t even start in his only year at North Carolina, yet still was selected 2nd overall in the 2005 draft by the Atlanta Hawks.
That list could go on and on. The takeaway point is this: Anunoby’s draft stock is not going to be harmed in any significant way by this injury. That’s just the way that it is. So if Anunoby decides to return to Indiana for his junior season, it’s because he thinks he needs to get better and he likes life at IU. It won’t be because his NBA stock plummeted due to an unfortunate injury.