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NBA Draft Deep Dive: Josh Okogie

Aaron explains why the late first/early second round is the spot to target a certain “depth” wing

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

I’m a firm believer that late in the Draft, whether it be the late first or early second round, teams should draft for need. Swing for the fences in the lottery; go for the “best player available” if that’s what the organization needs to do.

However, outside of the Top-20 picks or so, completely different story. Positional need, skill-set need, and situation are determining factors that should be weighed before selecting a young prospect.

As we all know, the Magic were awarded the sixth pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Regardless of what the Magic decide to do with that pick, one fact remains.

The Orlando Magic ranked 28th out of 30 teams last season in three-point percentage (35%). The Magic also finished 25th in the NBA with an Offensive Rating of 105.2 in ‘17-’18.

These playoffs have reminded us (if we didn’t already know) that successful teams in the NBA can never have enough help on the wings. Players that can stretch the floor, score, have versatility to play multiple positions, and have the ability to handle the basketball (as well as make plays for others) are wanted commodities by NBA front office executives.

The Magic own the 35th and 41st picks in this draft, and there’s a very good chance they can use one of these picks to add wing-depth, shooting, and scoring to the roster.

And I think the wing depth in this class is most plentiful in the 25-45 range, so the Magic are in a great situation to have a look at guys like Grayson Allen, Rawle Alkins, Melvin Frazier, and Jerome Robinson.

I believe the Magic should take an opportunity in this spot to target their guy who can become a contributor from the wing and compliment core pieces already on the roster. If he’s not going to be there at #35, they can try packaging their two picks in an effort to move up (into the 25-30 range for example). The Magic also have Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, two players with expiring contracts, to work with.

I’m going to provide pieces that take a deeper look at the kind of “wings” the Magic should be targeting in an effort to rebuild their shooting guard/small forward depth.

First in this series, I profile a versatile guard from the ACC whose athleticism quite literally jumps off the screen.

Josh Okogie (19 years old)
6-4, 210 lbs. (7-0 wingspan)

Ranking/Mock Draft Slot The Ringer Tankathon CBS Sports Sports Illustrated
Josh Okogie 27th 44th 31st 28th

Watching Josh Okogie’s film brought me a ton of enjoyment. I think that’s the best way to describe Okogie, wholesomely entertaining; he’s a run and jump athlete who seems to be everywhere on the floor. The brand of basketball Okogie plays is exciting, it’s energetic - it’s just a lot of fun.

Okogie, who was born in Nigeria, arrived at Georgia Tech fairly under-the-radar (rated as a three-star prospect by most national scouting services). He started for the Yellow Jackets right away, earning ACC All-Freshmen Honors in ‘16-’17.

Okogie parlayed his strong freshmen season into a Team USA U19 roster invitation last summer. Okogie was coached on Team USA by John Calipari.

His sophomore season began ominously as Okogie broke his left index finger in early November during a preseason exhibition game, and then was suspended the first six games of Georgia Tech’s season for an NCAA rules violation (Okogie debuted in mid-December).

Okogie is a plus NBA athlete who possesses NBA length to go along with his run and jump ability. He’s been one of the more discussed prospects around NBA circles since his strong showing at the league combine last month in Chicago.

At the combine, Okogie was measured just over 6-4 (solid 210 lb. frame) with an incredible 7-0 wingspan (his +8 wingspan-to-height measurement was behind only Mohamed Bamba in his draft class).

He also impressed scouts with his combine-best 42.0-inch max vertical leap (finished tied with Donte DiVincenzo). The Georgia Tech product finished first at the combine with a 3.04 three-quarter sprint as well, just ahead of Zhaire Smith (who is widely regarded as the top athlete in this draft class, ran a 3.05).

How could Okogie potentially help the Magic?

Drawing fouls

It’s not a secret; since the Magic traded Dwight Howard six years ago, they’ve been one of the worst teams in the league at getting to the free-throw line. Last season, the Magic ranked in the bottom ten of the NBA in free throws made (23rd), free throws attempted (21st), free throw rate (21st), and free throws-to-field goals attempted (23rd).

I’m usually hesitant to suggest that a rookie playing at a new/higher-level can continue to get to the charity stripe at the same rate that they did in college. In Okogie’s case, if given minutes and the right opportunity, I actually think he can.

Okogie, playing in one of the top conferences in Division I, led the ACC in free throws made and attempted as an 18 year-old true freshmen (in ‘16-’17). Freshmen usually don’t get that kind of respect from officials that early in their collegiate careers.

About thirty percent of the points Okogie put up over two years at Georgia Tech came via the free throw line. In 61 career games, he attempted over ten free throws in a single game thirteen different times. Okogie’s .539 career free throw attempt rate is incredibly strong (career: 8.0 FTA’s per/40).

“Hustle” contributions

While rebounding contributions may not be at the top of a prerequisite skills list that NBA executives should be looking for from guards/wings, it’s still nice when players can provide ancillary add-on talents.

For example, the Magic were putrid last season rebounding the basketball. The Magic ranked in the bottom five of the NBA in total rebounds (26th), offensive rebound percentage (29th), and defensive rebounding percentage (30th).

Those statistics may seems strange to some of you; in theory, bigs on the Magic roster such as Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo, and Khem Birch are solid NBA rebounders. One could make an argument that Orlando missed the secondary rebounding contributions from guards like Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton (I know, I know) last season.

If the Magic were to draft Okogie, he would easily become the best rebounding guard Orlando has had on the team since Oladipo. Okogie averaged 7.0 rebounds per/40 at Georgia Tech. He pulled down eight or more rebounds in a single contest fourteen times over his two year collegiate career.

It makes sense, because of his length, strength, and leaping ability, that Okogie is a plus-rebounder at the wing position. He’s also very active defensively; Okogie has the ability to jump the passing lane or chase down his defender for an emphatic block with ease. Thirteen times in his career Okogie provided his team with four or more combined steals/blocks in a single contest. Okogie finished 2nd in the ACC in steals per game last season (1.8).

Any weaknesses?

His shot/shot-selection

The big question for Okogie that will ultimately determine his ceiling as an NBA player is how quickly will he be able to develop an outside shot?

Don’t get me wrong, Okogie knocked-down shots from the outside with somewhat regularity in college. His career 38% three-point conversion rate is more than adequate.

A question that I have about Okogie’s shooting (or specifically, his shot selection) is, why didn’t he shoot from the outside more often? This possibly could’ve been due to the fact that he was encouraged to attack the rim so often. I mean, he probably was one of the best athletes on the floor (if not the best) every game he took part in.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, even though his career three-point percentage at Georgia Tech looks good, it’s not a rate that produced a ton of points - he’s not a prolific outside shooter (Career 55% TS%).

It is promising that Okogie increased his 3PAr from .17 (his freshmen year) to .31 last season without any kind of drop-off in efficiency (2.6 3PTA’s per/40 as a freshmen, 4.6 per/40 as a sophomore).

I noticed on film that Okogie is quite deliberate with his shooting form and release. He’s going to have to speed-up and refine his release at the NBA-level to make it work. Okogie is also going to have to raise the release point on his shot and really accentuate his follow-through.

Play-making ability

While I consider Okogie a unique prospect, the versatility he could bring to an organization comes on the defensive end of the court. On offense, he’s going to be strictly an off-the-ball wing (he’s actually a savvy off-the-ball cutter).

I don’t consider Okogie’s handle to be a strong part of his game, which in turn will limit his ability to initiate offense running pick-and-roll sets. His vision is fine, but nothing to write home about (just under 2.7 assists per/40 last season, 15.6% AST%). His decision-making, while never severely detrimental to his team at any point over two seasons, also never really improved (Career 2:23 A:TO Ratio).

Okogie’s best film: January 25th, 2017 vs. Florida State
Okogie’s line: 35 points (10-17 FGA’s, 1-4 3PTA’s, 14-17 FTA’s), 14 rebounds, 5 assists

I have to be honest; during this process of watching film and writing these scouting reports of potential Magic second round selections, there hasn’t been a prospect in this class that has impressed me as much as Okogie. When considering his athleticism, length, the energy he plays with; he seems like a “no-brainer” addition to a roster that is starving for a little excitement. I think he’s moved into the position of “favorite prospect outside of the lottery” for me.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff Weltman and John Hammond feel the same way that I do. Okogie is the kind of prototypical prospect that Orlando’s front office executives have targeted in past drafts. Very long, athletic, position versatility (defensively).

Unfortunately, due to his strong showing at the combine, Okogie is now being projected by draft experts to be selected at some point in the late first round.

But if there was one prospect that Weltman and Hammond would considering putting a package together to trade for (packing Orlando’s two second rounds picks perhaps), I would have to imagine it would be for a guy like Josh Okogie.