Versatility. Lockdown potential. An athletic wing that can give you nightmares on the defensive side of the ball, or will slash right down the lane and live above the rim. Yes, those are comments that could be made about Auburn freshman Isaac Okoro, who has steadily gained some serious traction over the basketball year and looks to have solidified his status as a potential Top 5 selection this year.
This draft has been one of the more "strange" drafts in recent memory. It seems as if there was serious potential for some prospects to make a serious charge up draft boards during the NCAA tournament. With what's happening in the basketball world today, it's going to make things even more crucial for scouting departments and basketball operations staff in general. Okoro was a player that steadily gained ground throughout the Collegiate season this year due to his ability to defend multiple positions and his untapped potential on the offensive side of the ball.
BY THE NUMBERS
Okoro is going to be one of the more interesting prospects we look at when it comes to the top of the draft because the word "potential" is going to carry more weight than normal. Isaac's production won't scream "Top 5" pick at first glance, but when you watch him on tape...he stands out as a player that has his best basketball miles away. That realization will make some NBA Front Offices drool if they believe they can unlock his game. Remember, when you are looking a pick becoming a Top 5, or even Top 10 selection, you're also convincing yourself of the player he's going to grow into. Teams will convince themselves that potential is more important than production, which is always a nerve-wracking development for fanbases.
When we look at the stats above, the three-point percentage may stand out to you in a negative way, but Okoro's shooting form shows that there's a serious opportunity for his outside shooting to improve rapidly at the next level. If you're looking for a pro comparison to this theory, Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown shot 29% as well from 3 in college during his one year playing for the University of California.
If we take a look above at some of the offensive synergy rankings for Okoro, it confirms what a number of NBA teams are thinking...Okoro can make an impact in a number of areas. While teams are intrigued with Okoro because of his defensive potential, I was pleasantly surprised by his analytic numbers on the offensive side of the ball.
"You Have My Attention..."
Well good evening to you too Isaac Okoro. Do we have your attention now draft fanatics? Here we get a good look at Okoro taking it aggressively right off the dribble. That's fellow potential lottery selection Aaron Nesmith defending Okoro on this drive, and as we wrote before...Nesmith possesses a 6'10" wingspan. A great example here of the explosiveness and athleticism of Okoro that has NBA teams intrigued.
While it's easy to see that Okoro is still in the process of developing some "confidence" when it comes to his outside shot, he shows you plenty of flashes that let you know "Okay, the ability is there...it just needs to come out more." Okoro showcased a smooth and intriguing step back from outside a number of times this year.
POST UP GAME
Something that has intrigued me with Okoro the more I watch him is the combination of his lower body strength and overall body control. A number of times, Auburn would actually look to post up Isaac and this play is a good example of it. Notice the combination of quickness and footwork that Okoro has. He's not afraid to go up against anyone in a post-up situation and welcomes smaller defenders to try and stop him if they are going to switch onto him.
Like we stated before, Okoro only shot 29% from deep this year, but his form leaves enough to wonder if that number could jump with repetition and some coaching at the next level. When Okoro has space and he's set, everything looks good. Speeding up his shot and building some confidence will be the next steps.
Okoro is a playmaker and the more I watched him in transition and half-court sets...the more I came away impressed by his feel and footwork. He's got a while to go, but you can see why an NBA Front Office would be drooling for their developmental staff to get their hands on a player like Okoro.
When you watch Okoro on film, another thing that stands out is his ability to finish with both hands around the rim. Remember, Okoro finished in the 80th percentile when it came to transition offensive opportunities via synergy. His combination of athleticism and finishing ability make him an intriguing weapon in the open floor at the NBA level.
There's a lot to like from Auburn freshman Isaac Okoro and it's easy to see why he gained so much traction over the year in NBA circles. Athletic wings with size that can defend and show potential to grow on the offensive side of the ball, are usually a hot commodity during the draft. Okoro projects to have plenty of exciting features to his game that could improve rapidly, but can someone find the key to unlock the treasure chest. Auburn went through a stretch this year in which Okoro sat out a number of games recovering from an injury, and the team struggled, showing just the importance of a talent like Isaac. As of now, Okoro finds himself ranked 4th on our 2020 NBA Draft Board.