2020 NBA Draft sleepers: How Daniel Oturu can fill role for Warriors

2020 NBA Draft sleepers: How Daniel Oturu can fill role for Warriors

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.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

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.

[RELATED: Ranking Warriors' best draft options for third Splash Bro]

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.

Daniel Oturu

Position: Center

Class: Sophomore

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.

Height: 6-9.5

Weight: 240

Wingspan: 7-3

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.

What Warriors' Klay Thompson repeatedly told Damion Lee during rehab

What Warriors' Klay Thompson repeatedly told Damion Lee during rehab

Damion Lee tore his right ACL on Nov. 27, 2013 during his junior season at Drexel University.

The Warriors guard then tore his left ACL on Dec. 23, 2016 while playing for the Maine Red Claws -- the Boston Celtics' G League affiliate.

Klay Thompson tore his left ACL during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

"We've had several conversations before about rehab in regards to the ACL," Lee said this week on the "Runnin' Plays" podcast with Kerith Burke and Grant Liffmann. "He'd always joke, 'Damn, D-Lee. I don't know how you did this twice because this is a lot.'

"It's cool to see what he's been through and now wanting to come back and go all out."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

What kind of 2020-21 season does Lee expect from Klay when the three-time NBA champion finally returns to game action?

"I feel like he wants to show people that he is the best two-way guard in the league," Lee said. "He's done it before. He's in a pretty good mind space. I think he's just ready to go out there and play."

[RELATED: Klay tells fans in China his mind, body are '100 percent']

Klay wasn't around the team a lot last season. But when he was at Chase Center, he made his presence felt.

"There were a lot of times where he'd just pull younger guys aside and give guys little tidbits," Lee explained. "It's unique to see. Everyone is so used to seeing Klay being quiet or reserved. Hearing him actually speak up and talk and give some input is huge.

"That's a huge step -- not only for him but the team and a lot of the younger guys seeing him as a big brother and as an influence."

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Watch Warriors' Steph Curry adorably teach son Canon to golf on beach

Watch Warriors' Steph Curry adorably teach son Canon to golf on beach

The thing Steph Curry probably loves more than basketball is his family … and golf. Golf is probably a close second, but the man is obsessed with the game. So what happens when the Warriors’ superstar introduces his son Canon to it? Well, cuteness … obviously.

I know, it’s the cutest thing you will see today.

Curry will be playing once again in the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament this weekend in Lake Tahoe. It’ll be his eighth appearance if you can understand how much he loves it. 

We could all assume Steph is looking forward to the day both he and Canon could truly enjoy the greens together. He’s obsessed with the game. So much so, he would think about it during basketball.

"I think I think about golf too much -- and that's a problem,” he said in an episode of ‘Stephen vs The Game’. “Like, during a game, yeah. The game of golf just gets under my skin.”

Steph might not have touched a club until the age of 10, which is well after he started toying around on the court, but per usual, he excelled at it. 

[RELATED: Curry wants to help save 'Warriors House' in West Oakland]

Still, he admitted he was “haunted” by the game -- a notion his wife Ayesha mentioned.

Either way, this important aspect of his life will be exciting to hand down to young Canon.