Hawks’ Onyeka Okongwu has limitless potential and a major flaw

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
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If there is one clear thing, Atlanta Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu has the skillset and tools to be one of the best young centers in the league. Sure, he’s undersized, but that hasn’t deterred him from challenging the best big men in the league. Many fans have been calling for Okongwu to start and with a Clint Capela trade being a possibility, he just might get that chance. His development is crucial for the Hawks and Okongwu has done nothing but get better every season!

Drafted sixth overall in the 2020 NBA Draft out of USC, Okongwu was expected to provide big minutes off the bench behind Capela. Atlanta traded for Capela at the trade deadline the during the season and looked to bolster their center depth by drafting Okongwu.

One thing is for sure, the numbers Okongwu puts up don’t jump off the screen or catch your eye, but if you watch him, you know exactly what he can provide on both ends of the floor.

Coming out of high school, Okongwu was actually a part of the infamous 2016 Chino Hills high school team. However, he was overshadowed by the Ball brothers who were making all the headlines in the media. Despite this, Okongwu was still good enough to play basketball at USC and was only one of three players from this team who would even get drafted. While at USC, he put up an impressive 16 points and 8 rebounds per game and shot over 60% from the field while doing it.

Onyeka Okongwu’s development impacting Atlanta Hawks’ plans

He also called 76 blocks during his one year at USC showing prowess on the defensive end of the floor.

Earlier in the same draft, the Charlotte Hornets took his high school teammate LaMelo Ball at third overall. His other teammate, Lonzo Ball was taken second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft.

When the Hawks took Okongwu at sixth overall, they were by no means expecting him to become a star player and intended to let him develop and learn behind Capela. That plan has since worked out as Okongwu is pushing for a possible starting spot. He has shown the upside that the Hawks liked coming out of the draft, and he will only continue to get better as he is still so young.