Onyeka Okongwu is another big that has a lot of potential but also a lot of question marks. He’s a bit undersized for a center but has the footwork, IQ, and willpower that is desired by many teams in the NBA. But will Okongwu have any real impact in the NBA? Can he ever be more than a role player? Let’s take a look at the tape.
Strengths: Footwork, Low Post Offense, Defense
As I’ve already stated, Okongwu already has many of the tools a big man should have. Though traditional bigs are slowing being phased out, there is still a need to have a reliable scorer who can enforce his will in the post. His footwork is pretty and fun to watch. Okongwu’s defense and timing are already next level. Timing on blocks and steals is 100% a mental skill. High IQ defenders can anticipate shots or passes by quickly identifying what the opposing offense is trying to do and react in real-time. If Okongwu’s defense can translate to the NBA, then that will be his greatest asset to teams.
Weaknesses: 3pt Shooting, Size
Okongwu has no offensive game outside the paint. That really hurts Okongwu in the short term, maybe even the long term. His lack of a shot combined with being a bit undersized (6’9) raises big questions about his transition to the NBA. His game is more in line with a traditional center but he does not have the size to really contended with bigs such as Joel Embiid. Teams would have to run Okongwu would have to be played at the four, but put alongside a big that can hit the three. I would not be surprised if Okongwu was to slip a bit in the draft.
The question marks surrounding Onyeka Okongwu will continue to swirl until he gets real NBA time. A slide in the Draft is defiantly possible. Someone like Golden State could benefit from someone like Okongwu. If they land the first overall pick, maybe they can trade back, possibly to the Knicks, and take Okongwu if James Wiseman is off the board. I had Okongwu going to the Minnesota Timberwolves in our mock. Like I said, if you have him int he starting lineup he has to be beside a big that can stretch the floor. If Okongwu ever wants to elevate beyond a role player, he has to get a shot.