Onyeka Okongwu Scouting Report – Atlanta Hawks Prospect Profile

Full NBA Draft scouting report of Onyeka Okongwu from an Atlanta Hawks perspective.

Between Onyeka Okongwu, James Wiseman, and Obi Toppin, the battle to be the first big man off the board of the 2020 NBA Draft is just getting started. All three provide immense value, albeit in different ways.

Here we’ll be exploring Okongwu deeper, providing a full scouting report of the USC forward by looking at his strengths and weaknesses before finding his potential fit with the Atlanta Hawks.

Onyeka Okongwu Scouting Report:

Strengths:

Handle

While not an outright necessity, having your big men able to handle the ball is a great plus in the modern NBA. Okongwu fits that mold, controlling the ball like a guard in transition and in halfcourt situations.

He can get his own bucket in isolation, which helps offset his lack of spacing. He’s also a solid passer, showing shades of Kevin Love on his deep outlets.

Rim-protection

Okongwu is a fantastic paint defender and an exceptionally smart shot-blocker. He’s quick on the attack and uses every inch of his 7’1 wingspan to reject shots. He averaged nearly three blocks per game as a freshman, 2nd best in the Pac-12 and 9th in the nation.

His vertical pop might be the best aspect of his game and he uses that on both ends of the court. On D, he flies through the air to contest shots, including frequent chase-down blocks.

Rim-running

On the other end of the court, he uses his athleticism as a dunker. Okongwu is a walking highlight and a threat to catch a lob every time he cuts. He’s fearless driving into the lane and can put anyone on a poster, at any time.

If he’s paired with a high-level P&R point guard like Trae Young or Damian Lillard, he’ll be lethal as a cutter.

P&R on both ends

Okongwu shines as a pick and roll player on both ends of the court. He’s an elite roll man on offense thanks to his aforementioned ability to rim run. Defensively, he might be even better.

He has great instincts when reading the offense and features enough athleticism to confidently step out onto the perimeter in a switch. Looks like a seasoned veteran defensively at the age of 19.

Rebounds

Okongwu is sturdy and reliable on the glass. He has a non-stop motor and a pogo stick-like ability to fight for balls in the air. Uses speed and hops to out-rebound bigger, stronger opponents.

Weaknesses:

Spacing and position

Okongwu can’t shoot the three and lacks the natural shooting motion that would lead you to believe he can improve on that throughout his career. Most teams can still afford to play a center that can’t space the floor, but having a four with range is a near-necessity these days.

At 6-foot-9, Okongwu can play both the four and five but would be undersized if he becomes a full-time center. Teams without a stretch five on the team may want to avoid drafting Okongwu.

Block-chaser

Okongwu can frequently bite on pump fakes, and with his sky-high leaps, it takes him a while to parachute down and recover. He can also get into foul trouble when chasing blocks and needs to be more patient.

Composure

Okongwu can play out of control at times, especially in the post. He can force bad shots and passes and is overall pretty raw for a guy expected to go in the early lottery. Teams can work on that and hope that some of it will go away naturally when he’s not always the #1 option like he was for USC.

Film Study:

Condensed Game versus UCLA:

What to watch for:

  • Patience (or lack thereof) in the post.
  • Jump shot mechanics
  • P&R defense.
  • Rolls out of picks and the intensity/efficiency of the picks.
  • Pop/energy level crashing the boards.

Self Film Breakdown via ESPN:

Fit with the Atlanta Hawks:

John Collins is going to be a popular player comparison for Okongwu, thanks to their high-flying dunks. While the comparison fits well in that regard, I think Okongwu will become a better defender, while Collins will be the better outside shooter.

The Atlanta Hawks don’t need a center but they do need a backup four. If they believe Okongwu is a better five, they should shy away from drafting him, no matter how good of a pairing he’d be with Trae Young.

In short, the Atlanta Hawks should value Okongwu, but maybe not as much as other teams who need desperately need frontcourt help.

The Bottom Line:

Onyeka Okongwu is one of my personal favorites in this draft class, and I think his high ceiling is matched with a fairly high floor. His big downfall is shooting and if he can ever add a three to his game, he will be a star.

For now, he’s a high-energy rebounder and defender who can sky for a dunk at any moment.

Should the Atlanta Hawks draft Onyeka Okongwu?