RJ Barrett's comment about OG Anunoby proves Knicks-Raptors trade was right move

RJ Barrett gave OG Anunoby a big compliment.
New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors
New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This time last year, RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley were gearing up for a playoff run with the New York Knicks. This year, Barrett and Quickley won't play in the postseason, as the Raptors finished No. 12 in the East with a 25-57 record.

During Toronto's locker cleanout on Monday, Barrett spoke to reporter Ryan Wolstat about what he will work on this summer. The forward said he will focus on becoming a better defender because Raptors fans are used to OG Anunoby, who Barrett called "one of the best defenders" he's ever seen.

Anunoby played in 23 games with the Knicks in the regular season. He missed a chunk of time because of elbow surgery, but he's healthy entering the playoffs, which gives New York a significant advantage. The Knicks are 20-3 with Anunoby in the lineup.

On Dec. 30, Knicks fans were coping with losing Barrett and Quickley, but it didn't take long for that pain to subside. New York was unstoppable in January, powered by Anunoby's defense, but unfortunately, the end of the month brought injuries to Anunoby and Julius Randle. Even though Randle underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, it's a bonus that Anunoby returned.

RJ Barrett calls OG Anunoby "one of the best defenders" he's ever seen

The Knicks-Raptors trade was unexpected, but there's no denying that Anunoby fits better with New York than Barrett did. Not only is Anunoby one of the best defenders in the league, but he's also an excellent cutter off the ball. Unlike Barrett, Anunoby doesn't need to operate in the paint, which gives Brunson (and Randle when he's healthy) more space down low.

As Barrett noted, Toronto's system is a better fit for him. He averaged 21.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game with the Raptors, shooting 55.3% from the field and 39.2% from three. For reference, Barrett averaged 18.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in the first half of the season with the Knicks, shooting 42.3% from the field and 33.1% from three.

Anunoby, Barrett, and Quickley have thrived with their new teams. So far, both teams have won the trade, which is uncommon. The Knicks got a key (hopefully) long-term piece in Anunoby, and the Raptors have two young players for their rebuild.

Barrett couldn't have said it any better. Anunoby is a superb defender and fits exceptionally well in New York.

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