OG Anunoby’s plus-minus embodies his impact for Knicks

The Knicks have outscored teams by a total of 85 points in OG Anunoby’s 137 minutes on the floor since arriving in New York.

The mind-boggling plus-minus stat shows just how impactful Anunoby’s presence has been for a Knicks team that desperately needed his size, shooting and defensive IQ on the wing, especially after starting center Mitchell Robinson went down with what is believed to be a season-ending ankle injury.

Anunoby’s unassuming stat line of 12 points, five rebounds and 1.5 steals per game doesn’t effectively describe the effect he’s had on his team.

He’s shooting a modest 37.5 percent from downtown since his arrival in the trade that sent RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley to Toronto, but there’s no arguing with plus-85.

“If [his plus-minus numbers] continued at that level, I would obviously be very pleased,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said with a smile. “When you come in and you’re in the middle of the season, you’re adjusting on the fly. It’s, how quickly can you adapt? And I told him that I feel like he’s playing great just because of the impact that he’s having when he’s on the floor.”

It’s especially pleasing for Thibodeau because he’s mentioned net rating — that is plus-minus — as his favorite of all the advanced metrics. If the team does well when a player is on the floor, that player is more likely to earn minutes in Thibodeau’s rotation.

“To me, the most important statistic that there is — and there’s a million statistics we all look at — but it’s net rating,” he explained. “What’s the impact that you have on the group when you’re on the floor? And then when you look at that — because it’s not just bringing the best out of yourself but it’s bringing the best out of the group, and he’s having a great impact on that. He’s fit in extremely well with his teammates.”

Why is Anunoby so impactful in his minutes on the floor? He is a lockdown defender at almost any position, doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective, and is a corner three-point specialist, creating space for Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle to operate in isolation.

He’s also a gifted cutter, a strong finisher at the rim and a better playmaker than he’s been given credit.


Thibodeau said Brunson is deserving of his first career NBA All-Star nod — though no coach would ever say their own player doesn’t deserve the league-wide recognition.

Brunson came in sixth place among Eastern Conference guards in the first fan returns of All-Star votes. Ahead of him were Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton, Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell, Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey, Atlanta’s Trae Young and Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard.

Thibodeau said All-Star nods are a byproduct of winning.

“And usually, it’s a fan vote to start with, and I know it’s changed a little bit, but then the coaches end up voting the rest of the team. I always say there’s so many great players in the league, and many are deserving,” he said. “I know from when I vote, and obviously I don’t have a vote for my own players, but it comes down to the end, and it’s a tough job. Because you don’t want to leave anyone out that deserves it.

“But there’s guys that are real close, and usually the thing that sways the close votes is the amount of winning that player does. So hopefully we can continue to build and win and our players get recognized. But in my eyes, he’s certainly deserving.”

Brunson also won Eastern Conference Player of the Week, averaging 27.3 points and 9.3 assists on 47 percent shooting from the field to lead the Knicks to a 4-0 record in the aftermath of the Anunoby trade.

“I think anytime there’s an individual award, it’s usually a byproduct of the team’s success,” Thibodeau continued. “So that’s probably the most important thing. So his his teammates share in it. But he’s played at a very high level all year. The best thing about him is what he cares about is winning. So I think that permeates the team.”


Former NBA champion turned Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups described why Julius Randle is a difficult NBA cover.

“Julius is a bull in the China shop. He’s just so physical. He brings that level every night,” he said. “He’s a tough matchup cause he’s quick and he’s fast and he’s pretty explosive. When his three ball is going, he’s really difficult to stop. But, they too believe in him. He’s going to be aggressive the entire time. You put him in his little areas where he’s [isolating]. He gets to the spots he likes to get to and he also can pass out of it and keep you honest. We will have our hands full with him as well.”