WEIGHT: 245 lbs
SCHOOL/ TEAM: USC
Athleticism, fluidity and strength
Strong frame, wide body
Vertical lob threat
7 ft plus wingspan
Good coordination, balance and footwork
Has soft touch around the rim
Good rebounder and rim protector
Solid free throw shooter
Has a solid go to move in the post
Off the ball cutter
Would thrive with NBA spacing
Has the tools to be a good rim runner
AREAS TO IMPROVE
Still a little raw offensively
Undersized at 6'9"
Does not always run the floor
Reading help defenses
Picking up offensive fouls trying to overpower opponents
Onyeka Okongwu’s is a cross between the old school back to basketball center from years past and the athletic vertical lob threat that is so valued today.
When he has the ball on the block he’s tough matchup for defenders. Although he’s a bit undersized at 6’9 he has reported 7’1 wingspan that makes up for lack of ideal height.
In 28 games this season converted over 63% of his post ups which ranked in the top 94 percentile in all of college basketball
Okongwu is blessed with great hands, a soft shooting touch and is comfortable shooting with his right or left hand around the rim.
Although at times he seems a little raw, he possesses good footwork and has developed a go to move and a counter. For example here he drives to his right and spins back to left for a soft touch finish.. For me this is an impressive move simply because he’s a natural righty and he has the footwork touch and confidence to make plays with his weak hand.
One of Okongwu’s best attributes is his tremendous athleticism
He’s a high a high flyer that explodes off the floor and looks to finish strong around the rim at every opportunity. He has quick twitch reflexes and what separates him from a lot of bigs is how quickly he loads up to get above the rim.
When most people think of athleticism you think of vertical pop or how fast or high a player jumps. If you’ve seen my Obi Toppin video, I discuss how Toppin is a great vertical athlete but lacks fluidity. Okongwu isn’t as bouncy as Toppin by a small margin but he’s a lot more fluid in the hips as you can see on this last play here...
Pick & Roll
This season at USC only 11.6% of Okongwu’s possessions were as the pick & roll roll man. I expect those numbers to double, maybe even triple as an NBA player since he’s such an tremendous and efficient scorer out of P&R where he shot 65.7% from the floor..
He’s a very good screener that moves well without the ball. His hops will always make him a vertical lob threat, but he’s also capable of catching bounce passes and make plays in space.
Running the floor
When I scout bigs one of the things I look for is how well or often he runs the floor. A big man the sprints the floor in transition not only can get easy baskets for himself, but his gravity can create scoring opportunities for his teammates.
Okongwu has the foot speed and motor to be highly effective rim runner in the NBA. He even shows flashes of being a comfortable ball handler in the open court...
At the very, very minimum. Okongwu should be able to carve out a long NBA career as an energy or hustle guy that attacks the offensive glass and scores off put backs..
His a restless rebounder that averaged over 3 rebounds per game in 30 minutes of action.
Over 18% of his possessions this season came from offensive rebound putbacks which indicates he can impact games on his own without being spoon fed scoring opportunities from teammates.
He converted 68.3% of his offensive rebounds putbacks which ranked in the top 90% in college basketball.
Areas for Improvement
Okongwu does an excellent job of playing to his strengths so there are not many glaring weaknesses that he needs to improve on since he’ll have a defined roll in the NBA… In my opinion the biggest thing I noticed is his turnovers nearly doubled his assists this season. Nearly 20% of his post possessions ended in turnovers
He has a tendency to look to overpower weaker/smaller opponents and pick up charges. He also struggles with reading double teams or traps…
I believe he has the potential to become a good kick out passer out of the post and he shows flashes of his instincts, but he must improve his feel for the game as a passer when doubled..
He’s often impatient and in hurry and forces passes which lead to easy steals and fast break baskets on the other end..
I’ve seen other scouting reports that’s his is jump shooting and lack of ability to space the floor as a weakness or area for improvement.
In my opinion he can be a high level NBA starter without a jumper, but improving his jumper would be more of a luxury than necessity..
Rafael Barlowe - May 16, 2020
Okongwu did not enter this season as a projected lottery pick, but his strong showing early in the season has for sure caught the attention of NBA scouts and executives.
Okongwu is a gifted athlete with explosive hops, good footwork and coordination and a soft touch. He should be able to carve out a long career as a rim roller, rebounding and rim protector.
Rafael Barlowe - December 1, 2019