Three possible destinations for USC’s Onyeka Okongwu
With each month of the 2019-20 college basketball season, Onyeka Okongwu saw his draft stock gradually rise. In his freshman campaign at USC, he averaged 16.2 PPG on 61.6 percent shooting to go along with 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.
Although only standing at 6-foot-9, Okongwu sports a 7-foot-1 wingspan, while possessing extreme athleticism and a high basketball IQ. Okongwu is currently in the No. 2 slot of my draft big board; I believe that what he brings on the court is really special.
Let’s take a look at the best NBA fits, and what he could bring to each respective rotation.
Golden State Warriors
Nobody knows what the Warriors will do with their upcoming lottery pick. If Golden State elects to draft a player, Okongwu fits what the team needs.
At full-strength, the Dubs don’t need another primary scorer. Instead, Okongwu would be efficient on both ends of the court, blocking shots and adding supplemental offense near the rim. He may never be a big that is able to stretch the floor consistently, but his length combined with his high motor and athleticism make him a force to be reckoned with.
Golden State doesn’t need a star, but rather a player who fills a certain role. Okongwu’s energy fits Steve Kerr’s system; he would be an immediate impact player for a Warriors team with little spending money for rotation pieces.
Cody Zeller is the only true big under contract for the Hornets next season. And even if they bring back some of their unrestricted free agents, Charlotte could use an upgrade in the frontcourt.
The lowly Hornets should be in ‘best player available’ mode when it comes to the draft. For an organization looking for high-quality contributors moving forward, Okongwu fits the bill. His impact on both ends of the court far outweighs what is seen in the box score.
This draft class is filled with high risk, high reward type prospects, and Okongwu is one of the safer options. He possesses a smooth shot release for a big, and he and Terry Rozier could form an intriguing pick-and-roll pair. The offensive identity is still developing, but his intangibles will earn him playing time right away.
San Antonio Spurs
Speaking of developing young players, few organizations are better than the Spurs. San Antonio’s dynamic coaching staff would find ways to capitalize on Okungwu’s strengths while grooming his scoring potential.
An aging LaMarcus Aldridge will be on the last year of his contract, and the Spurs have few promising big men on the payroll. The USC product would fill a key need on the court, while replenishing the team’s youth and athleticism.
Okongwu has good vision, and he has shown flashes of being a willing passer out of the paint - essential for an Spurs player. Quite frankly, the Spurs need a star, but likely won’t have a high enough selection in this year’s weak draft. If Okongwu is available, San Antonio should immediately take him.