When you’re taken outside of the lottery, you’re not expected to contribute a lot in your rookie season.
That hasn’t been the case for the 20th pick in the NBA Draft. Josh Okogie was looked at as a raw prospect when the Wolves took him out of Georgia Tech. It would take time for him to find the floor, we thought. There would be some learning to do for the 20-year old.
While there is still plenty of learning to be done for the rookie, he’s been baptized by fire and at the very least, it’s clear he’s going to be an NBA rotational player who has the upside of being an All-NBA defender.
A lot of that has to do with energy, but it also has to do with body positioning and scouting.
We first saw it in Summer League . . .
And it’s continued into the regular season . . .
Offensively, there’s more work to be done, but positive signs have been there.
In his last two games, Okogie has averaged 16 points per game, the best-two game mark of his NBA career. And per Basketball-Reference, those two games are two of his three best games of the season.
On the season, Okogie’s numbers don’t jump out at you. He’s averaging 7.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.9 steals while shooting 37.2 percent from the field and 25.8 percent from the 3-point line, but it’s clear from watching him, he makes winning basketball plays – even if there will be learning moments, such as the end of Friday’s game when Okogie lost the ball with 90 seconds left.
Okogie is constantly in fourth gear and while the effort is great, he’ll learn to understand that slowing down is OK.
The Wolves miss Rob Covington, who is out indefinitely with a bone bruise, but Okogie is getting valuable development minutes.
This is a player who plays with maximum effort on both ends to the court and isn’t one to lose confidence. His shot needs some work, but the form is there and on Friday night, he nailed four of six 3-point attempts.
The next night, he was 1-for-8 but interim head coach Ryan Saunders said that those are shots he wants Okogie shooting. The worst thing offensively is a scared shooter and Okogie is the opposite of that.
Earlier this month, Bleacher Report did a re-draft of the 2018 Draft and Okogie rose from 20 to 17. You could argue he should be further up the list, ahead of someone like Michael Porter Jr. who has yet to play in a game.
He’s already a fan favorite in Minnesota, and we have a feeling that Saunders will find minutes for Okogie even when Covington returns. He’s a rare player who could get a crowd going in a short stint off the bench. There aren’t many players, let alone rookies, in the league who can do that.
Okogie has proven so far, though, that he’s not your average rookie.