Onyeka Okongwu is starting to unlock his offensive postential for the Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY /

The Atlanta Hawks drafted Onyeka Okongwu with pick No. 6 in the 2020 NBA draft. He was arguably the second-best big man in the draft behind James Wiseman thanks to his defense and his ability in the pick and roll.

He missed the start of his rookie season due to a foot injury and as a result ex-head coach Lloyd Pierce missed the opportunity to develop the then-rookie. Then, when Nate McMillan took over he started to develop Okongwu which paid dividends in the playoffs last season. Pairing him with pick-and-roll master Lou Williams in the second unit also paid massive dividends.

Then, prior to the season starting the Hawks announced that Okongwu was going to miss the first few months of the regular season due to shoulder surgery. Such is his heart and desire, Okongwu vowed to return earlier than expected and he managed to do this. The Hawks were starting to give him some well-deserved responsibility until the COVID-19 crisis hit Okongwu as well.

The Atlanta Hawks are going to benefit from Onyeka Okongwu’s expanding offense.

In the recent loss to the Chicago Bulls, Okongwu was a man on a mission. He was locked in defensively which is nothing unusual, but it was one of his better all-around offensive games. Yes, he has had games where he has scored more points but what he did against the Bulls needs to be the template for his offense for his career.

Okongwu scored eight points on 3-of-3 shooting. It would have been more except he only went 2-of-4 from the line. This is an area that he has worked on and is improving but there is still more room to go.

Of his four rebounds, Okongwu had three offensive boards meaning that he was able to stop empty possessions. On a team full of shooters, this is a crucial role and is often overlooked. Okongwu is not afraid to do the dirty work offensively for this team.

This also includes screening which we know he is good at because of the pick and roll game he has. However, what was incredibly impressive was that Okongwu had five assists for the game. A player becomes easier to stop if the opposition knows what he is going to do. If Okongwu can keep passing the ball, then he is going to be very difficult to read on offense.

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This is only going to benefit the Hawks down the track and mean that Okongwu will get more court time as his career progresses.