Last Word on Pro Basketball draft coverage continues with an in-depth look at USC big man Onyeka Okongwu. Okongwu played with Lonzo Ball and LaMelo Ball at Chino Hills High School and is looking to be the third player from Chino Hills to be selected in the top 10 of an NBA draft.
Onyeka Okongwu 2020 NBA Draft Player Profile
Onyeka Okongwu started his freshman career off the bench but came on extremely strong and started the last stretch of games for the Trojans. He averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game. Okongwu earned First Team All-Pac 12 honors in his first and only season.
Onyeka Okongwu is a phenomenal post player. He has a solid amount of post moves, especially for a freshman. He can finish with both hands and is a great athlete. Okongwu is also very efficient, shooting a robust 61.6 percent from the field, tops in the Pac 12. He is also a solid rebounder, especially for his size. Okongwu’s most underrated quality is his defense. He averaged 2.7 blocks a game, second in the Pac 12. He also averaged 1.2 steals a game.
Okongwu’s best quality is his offense in the paint. He is a tremendous roll man in the pick and roll and is a constant lob threat. His athleticism allows him to make up for his lack in size, one of his few shortcomings. Okongwu is a great modern big man as he can also shoot a mid-range jump shot when needed.
As mentioned earlier, Okongwu is small. His size was ideal in a college setting, but in the NBA he is undersized. At only 6’9, he will struggle against bigger lineups if he stays at the center position. He does have a good weight, however. Okongwu weighs in at 245, making him an ideal power forward size.
One of the big things NBA teams look for is shooting ability, especially in big men nowadays. This is not one of Okongwu’s strong points. His range extends to just outside the paint for 15-foot jump shots. Not terrible, however, in the modern NBA it may ruin spacing for his team. He only shot 4 threes the whole year, and his only make was a half-court miracle.
NBA Player Comparison
Bam Adebayo. Adebayo broke out this season, earning his first All-Star game appearance, and along with Jimmy Butler, has the Miami Heat in the thick of the playoff race. Adebayo and Okongwu have similar body types and similar play styles. Both measure in at 6’9, with Okongwu weighing 245 pounds and Adebayo at 255. They both came into the draft as defensive beasts, and Okongwu has the ability to develop into a better playmaker with NBA training.
NBA Draft Projection
Top 10. In a relatively weak draft class, Okongwu is a prime prospect for a team that needs a big man. He could go anywhere from 6-10 in the class, which includes teams like the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, and Washington Wizards. All of those teams could use a big man to go along with a strong backcourt.
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