Knicks get much-needed positive OG Anunoby update after devastating Randle blow

OG Anunoby last played on March 16.
New York Knicks, OG Anunoby
New York Knicks, OG Anunoby / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

The New York Knicks will officially be without Julius Randle for the remainder of the 2023-24 season, but what about OG Anunoby? He missed a month and a half after the January 27 game against the Heat, the same game Randle dislocated his shoulder. Anunoby returned on March 12 but played in three games before he was sidelined again.

New York listed Anunoby as out with elbow inflammation, but that has changed to elbow tendinopathy. The Knicks didn't specify which tendon is affected, leaving fans with more questions than answers.

Hours after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Randle would undergo season-ending surgery, Tom Thibodeau gave a hopeful Anunoby update ahead of New York's game against Sacramento.

It's a great sign that Anunoby's been cleared for contact and is progressing well in rehab. However, note that Thibodeau said the team is "cautiously optimistic." There's no guarantee that he'll return, but there seems to be a good chance he will.

Thibodeau reveals OG Anunoby has been playing 5-on-5 with contact

New York acquired Anunoby in a surprise trade on Dec. 30. He's played in only 17 games for the Knicks, and the team is 15-2 with him in the lineup. He's averaging 14.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game in New York, shooting 49.7% from the field and 36.4% from three.

In Anunoby's first game back from elbow surgery, the Knicks smoked the Sixers 106-79. Philadelphia was still without Joel Embiid, but two days before that, New York lost to Philly, 79-73. Anunoby's a game-changer and not just on the defensive end.

Before the Knicks traded for Anunoby, their defense was at the bottom of the league. That changed after the trade. With defensive intensity ramping up in the playoffs, Anunoby could propel New York past the first (and maybe even the second) round. Of course, it helps that the Knicks have Jalen Brunson.

New York seems to be playing it safe with Anunoby after he returned too soon in March. He may not play again until the postseason, but at least he (hopefully) won't be at risk of re-aggravating his elbow.

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