Knicks: Top ESPN analyst ‘not moved’ by OG Anunoby trade

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau talks to forward OG Anunoby (8) during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are 2-0 in the new year with their latest addition, OG Anunoby, who has been a big part of their recent success.

No matter, one NBA analyst is not jumping for joy over the recent acquisition. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith expects nothing less than championship contention from the Knicks on a yearly basis. On yesterday’s episode of First Take, he gave Anunoby his props, but not to the point of deeming the Knicks favorites in the East after his arrival, saying:

“I’m not moved,” Smith remarked. “The Knicks are better, they’re certainly better defensively. Anunoby doesn’t require the ball the way RJ Barrett does, he’s a better three-point shooter, catch-and-shoot threes. Not only that, he’s shooting like 44 percent on threes from the corner. So he doesn’t need the ball as much which frees the ball up for Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle.”

Is Anunoby a Potent Enough Scorer to Get the Knicks Over the Hump?

Questions remain about whether or not Brunson or Randle can be the lead guy on a title team. Anunoby has been brought in to fill a tertiary role behind both stars.

Therefore, as good as the 2023 NBA steals leader is on defense, the Knicks may need more muscle in the scoring department to unseat the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and reigning Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat in the 2024 postseason.

Anunoby has six career games with 30 or more points scored, which does two things. First, it indicates that Anunoby has room to grow in his seventh year, but also says that where he is now likely isn’t enough to put fear in those powerhouses out East whenever Brunson or Randle have an off night.

Realistically, he was not brought on to fill the role of a No. 1, but Smith simply awaits a superstar acquisition, without disparaging what Anunoby can contribute in his role.

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A Strong Opening Performance Should Have Smith & The Rest of the Knicks Support System Encouraged

Nevertheless, Anunoby made a great first impression with 17 points and six rebounds in his Knicks debut. His perimeter presence on both ends will help the Knicks recover from Mitchell Robinson’s absence and open the offense up in hopes of creating easier scoring opportunities.

RJ Barrett had shown much promise in the early parts of the 2023-24 campaign but regressed before being dealt. The Knicks will also miss Immanuel Quickley’s scoring off the bench, but now have the opportunity to let Donte DiVincenzo blossom in his place.

Anunoby has the rest of the season to let his play do the talking and move Smith the way he’d like to be moved. As time progresses and he develops camaraderie with his teammates, Anunoby’s upside with the team will reveal itself.