Chuma Okeke's Strengths

Magic forward signed rookie contract with team on Monday
by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - Chuma Okeke, the Orlando Magic’s 16th overall pick in last year’s draft, signed his rookie contract with the club on Monday.

“We are thrilled to welcome Chuma to the team,” Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman said. “He’s demonstrated all of the characteristics that we had seen in him when we drafted him and we look forward to him starting his career with us.”

Here are several of his strengths from his time playing at Auburn:

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 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 in his final college season, there were a couple possessions where Okeke was switched onto Ja Morant, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft, and he did a good job staying between the 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 then 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 a year ago. 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 in 2018-19 with the Tigers, 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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