Editor's note: As the Warriors prepare for the 2020 NBA draft, NBC Sports Bay Area will present a twice-weekly series spotlighting two "Sleepers" likely to be evaluated. This is the third of a 12-part series on intriguing prospects considered risky to select among the top 10.
The Warriors are strongly considering trading down in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft, and there will be no shortage of fascinating prospects if they decide to drop down from the top five.
One such individual is Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu, who is a bit of a project but has drawn comparisons to several effective NBA centers, including Clint Capela, formerly of the Houston Rockets and now of the Atlanta Hawks.
The Warriors once hoped Jordan Bell could fill that role, be a nimble small-ball center who is able to pair a strong defensive presence while also representing a significant lob threat. A second-round pick in 2017, Bell showed some early promise but was undone by inattention to details. The Warriors let him walk after two seasons.
At 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, Oturu is a couple inches taller and about 20 pounds heavier than Bell. Furthermore, Oturu possess a better collection of skills, which is why it’s expected he’ll be gone before the second round. More likely, he’ll go in the first, probably between 12 and 20.
Reviewing his college video, it’s apparent Oturu is an adequate leaper with a good sense of offensive spacing and defensive court awareness. The last Warriors big man to arrive as a rookie with those characteristics is Kevon Looney, whose future effectiveness is massively uncertain.
Oturu’s single greatest skill appears to be rebounding, as he uses a combination of length, anticipation and aggression on the glass. He reached double figures in rebounding in 19 of Minnesota’s 31 games and seven times snagged at least 16. Rebounding is an art that almost always carries from college to the NBA.
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The best description of his rim protection is professional. He has a knack for blocking shots and also, to use an Andrew Bogut term, “discouraging” others from invading the paint. That he fouled out only once in 31 games as a sophomore indicates he’s not particularly jumpy, as young bigs tend to be.
On the other end, though, Oturu is less polished. He has decent hands but can be prone to turnovers. His jump shot is a work in progress but clearly was better as a sophomore than as a freshman. He’s prone to turnovers.
Though he is efficient in pick-and-roll sets, the Warriors don’t often lean on pick-and-roll. Still, it would be a potent weapon to have in their offensive arsenal. Oturu is not much of a passer, certainly not as clever as Marquese Chriss, who could get most of the minutes at center.
The biggest strike against Oturu is that he’s a smallish low-post center entering a league that rarely utilizes those skills -- unless you’re a legitimate franchise player, which Oturu is not.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, acutely aware of Looney’s challenges, has been transparent in his desire to add another big man to the roster. Insofar as Chriss turns 23 next month, it’s more likely that the new addition will be a veteran.
Doesn’t have to be. And if the goal is to add someone who can come off the bench, catch lobs on one end and be a paint presence on the other, Oturu is on the short list.
Birthdate: Sept. 20, 1999 (20)
Hometown: Woodbury, Minn.
2019-20 stats: 20.1 points (56.3 percent FG, 36.5 percent 3p, 70.7percent FT), 11.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks.
What they’re saying: “I think right now, he’s probably playing as well as any player in the country. All of our guys had to play a role in defending him.” – Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell, to reporters after Oturu recorded 19 points and nine rebounds against the Scarlet Knights in January.