Chuma Okeke's Strengths

by Josh Cohen

Chuma Okeke’s shot technique, which is excellent, draws comparisons to seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry, who just so happened to play at Okeke’s rival in-state school, Alabama, years ago. The 6-foot-8, 230-pounder from Auburn made 38.9 percent of his 3-point attempts during his two years in college. With a 7-foot wingspan, Okeke can shoot over most defenders. He’s also a very good spot-up shooter.

Maybe the best thing about Okeke is that he’s position-less, which makes him a versatile player on both ends of the floor. He’s very good defending in space. In Auburn’s game against Murray State this past season, there were a couple possessions where Okeke was switched onto Ja Morant, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, and he did a good job staying between Memphis’ new electrifying point guard and the basket.

What’s Okeke’s most underrated quality? It might be his court vision. Three times during his sophomore season, which ended when he tore his ACL in Auburn’s Sweet 16 win against North Carolina, the 20-year-old dished out five assists. Either when he posts up or when he faces the hoop, Okeke generally makes good decisions, which helps explain why he averaged only 1.3 turnovers during his time with the Tigers.

If not for the ACL tear, Okeke would have likely been a lottery pick. Why? He’s very polished for his age. The belief with Okeke is that, although he’s far from being a finished product, he would have been able to contribute right away if not for the injury. The Atlanta native, who was named Mr. Georgia Basketball in 2017, moves really well without the ball, which makes him a terrific stretch four because he knows exactly where to go to spot up.

Even though he’s not super explosive, Okeke uses his high basketball IQ and craftiness to score. The former four-star recruit, who shot nearly 58 percent inside the arc this past season, displayed excellent footwork when he posted up and he’s capable of scoring off the dribble, despite not having supreme athleticism. Before injuring his knee midway through the second half against UNC, Okeke was having a remarkable night, going for 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field.

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