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Knicks’ OG Anunoby isn’t sweating the major minutes Tom Thibodeau is giving him: ‘I’m used to this’

One thing we can be certain about with a team coached by Tom Thibodeau is that his players are going to log heavy minutes every night. It’s not unusual to see Jalen Brunson play over 40 minutes on a consistent basis, in fact, he’s done it six times already this season, including in back-to-back games where he logged 41 minutes each to end 2023. Playing that many minutes consistently requires a certain level of conditioning, but for new Knicks forward OG Anunoby, the heavy minutes he’s logged since being traded from the Raptors are nothing new to him.

“In Toronto, I played like 58 minutes one game — I’ve played a lot of minutes before, I’m used to this,” Anunoby said after logging 43 minutes in back-to-back games this week. 

When Anunoby was in Toronto, he, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet often ranked near the top of the league in minutes per game. In fact, during the 2021-22 season, the three of them all ranked in the top 10 with Siakam and VanVleet claiming the first two spots, while Anunoby wasn’t too far behind at seventh with 36 minutes a game. So he’s literally built to withstand major minutes, which likely has Thibodeau salivating at the thought of having a guy on the roster who he can throw out there for almost an entire game without him getting gassed. 

When asked how he knew Anunoby could handle playing 86 total minutes in back-to-back games, Thibodeau pointed to his experience with the Raptors.

“He played in Toronto,” Thibodeau said. “Sometimes that’s what’s called for, so you do what you think is called for. In the end, the minutes will be where the minutes are, and right now we gotta find our way as we’re adjusting. Find a way to win, build our rhythm, concentrate on improvement and it takes some time. That’s where we are, just go day by day and some guys are playing big minutes, we’re shorthanded that’s what happens.”

Shorthanded or not, though, playing Anunoby for that many minutes is almost necessary for the Knicks. Since he joined the team on Jan. 1, the Knicks have gone 8-2, and Anunoby’s plus-170 over the last 10 games ranks second in the league during that span behind only Brunson. He’s fit perfectly alongside the rest of New York’s starting lineup, and he’s the key reason the Knicks have been so successful since the turn of the calendar year. So I doubt we’ll see his minutes decrease any time soon.

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