Atlanta Hawks: How Onyeka Okongwu can reach Bam Adebayo ceiling

Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) /

How Atlanta Hawks rookie Onyeka Okongwu can reach Bam Adebayo ceiling: Find a two-man game

Bam Adebayo should cut Duncan Robinson in on some of his massive extension that he got this summer.

Adebayo is an incredible investment for Miami and will be worth every penny, but he proved it in part because of an elite two-man game with Robinson.

Of all of Miami’s two-man lineups last season that played at least 100 minutes together, the Adebayo/Robinson duo was the best with a net rating of 9.2. The next best pairing was Jimmy Butler and Adebayo (+5.9).

Adebayo/Robinson also posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.04, a true shooting percentage of 60.7, and a blistering offensive rating of 114.9.

Much of Miami’s offense was focused on initiating an initial handoff and down-screen from Adebayo on Robinson’s man to either get him open or create a crack for Adebayo or another player.

It most often looked like this or some variation of it:

Robinson did well off passes from Adebayo, too. Nearly 30 percent of his received passes came from Adebayo, and he averaged 47.8 percent 3-point shooting off of those passes (season average was 44.6 percent).

This video from NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster did a great job discussing Okongwu’s skills and weaknesses and his floor/ceiling. As Dauster points out, one of the major things that could unlock Adebayo-like potential for Okongwu is a passing game.

Adebayo’s passing game was seemingly effortlessly unlocked when he and Robinson were paired in the offense frequently and directly. In his first season with major minutes alongside Robinson, Adebayo’s assists per 36 minutes went from 3.5 in 2019 to 5.5 in 2020.

The Hawks would be wise to find Okongwu’s Robinson. Trae Young and John Collins already have extremely strong chemistry, and finding someone for Okongwu in the second unit would make for a strong(er) offense when those two are resting.

Kevin Huerter is a possibility, and with the addition of Bogdan Bogdanovic, quite possibly the best fit once Okongwu returns from injury.