Grading OG Anunoby's anticipated Knicks debut

Jan 1, 2024; New York, New York, USA;  New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) dunks past Minnesota
Jan 1, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) dunks past Minnesota / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks opened 2024 with a 112-106 win against the Minnestoa Timberwolves in a Monday matinee at Madison Square Garden. This marked the first game of OG Anunoby's Knicks era, and he certainly impressed in his debut.

A big reason for the Knicks trading RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley for the 27-year-old was because the Knicks lacked on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, they have a top 10 rating, but they also had a bottom-ten defensive rating.

Anunoby was certainly improving both, moving well off of the ball and being able to knock down outside shots, as well as playing impressive defense on Minnesota's star player, Anthony Edwards. He was key in snapping New York's three-game losing streak.

Anunoby wasn't necessarily tasked with creating shots for himself but instead being ready for when Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. He did just that, getting multiple dunks off of being in position to score and knocking down three shots from deep. The Indiana University product is shooting 37.4% from three but 44% from the corner, proving that to be his sweet spot.

Tom Thibodeau talked about Anunoby's impressive debut after the game.

Knicks color commentator Alan Hahn noted that early in the game, Anunoby was holding his own against Edwards. But when he came out of the game, Ant started to score more comfortably. That's the effect of number 8, making things difficult for the opposing team's star and getting things going in transition.

Edwards did end with 35 points, but it came with Anunoby fouling out. When he wasn't on the floor, the defense looked slightly worse. In a modern NBA driven by offense, elite defenders are hard to come by, but Thibs's strong suit is defense.

The only concern for this game was his playing time, resulting in him fouling out. Anunoby played 35 minutes before picking up six fouls, with 20 of those minutes coming in the first half. It makes sense because the Knicks' bench looks very weak after Quickley left New York. Whether it be another trade or free agent signing, this problem must be fixed.

Despite Brunson shooting 5-23, other Knick players poured in offense, with Randle having 39 points and Donte DiVincenzo have 16 points. Anunoby's +19 led the team in plus-minus.

The trade for OG is certainly looking good after game one at MSG, with Barrett and Quickley also having made their respective debuts against the Cavaliers at Scotiabank Arena Monday night.

Game Grade: A-