NBA Draft 2020: Why Warriors, Onyeka Okongwu could be 'outstanding fit'

NBA Draft 2020: Why Warriors, Onyeka Okongwu could be 'outstanding fit'

Of all the top prospects in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft, arguably no one currently has as much upward momentum as USC big man Onyeka Okongwu. He didn't get nearly as much attention as some of the other top names throughout his lone collegiate season, but recently that has begun to change.

The Warriors reportedly have him ranked above James Wiseman, and they're not the only ones. The Athletic's John Hollinger recently released his top 20 players in the draft, and Okongwu is his top-ranked big man and No. 4 overall prospect. Beyond that, he believes Okongwu and Golden State would be a great match.

"Okongwu was awesome as a freshman and the only reason I don’t have him higher is that today’s game doesn’t value bigs as much," Hollinger wrote. "He still might be undervalued here. Relative to his position he’s arguably the best player in this draft, and in particular would seem to be an outstanding fit with the Golden State Warriors."


The Warriors are all but certain to have a top-five pick in the draft, meaning Okongwu theoretically would be available to them at their selection. Even if it's the No. 1 overall pick, Okongwu might be the right choice.

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Why? Based on statistical comparisons, he is quite similar to multiple recent No. 1 picks.

As a freshman at USC, Okongwu led the Pac-12 in PER (31.1) and shot 72.2 percent from the free-throw line. Since 2011-12, only four other major conference NCAA freshman posted a PER above 30 while shooting at least 70 percent from the charity stripe. They were, as Hollinger noted: Anthony Davis, Cody Zeller, Karl-Anthony Towns and DeAndre Ayton.

That's some exclusive company. Davis, Towns and Ayton all went first overall in their respective drafts, while Zeller went fourth in his. If Okongwu ends up like any of them, whichever team selects him won't regret it.

"While Okongwu’s ceiling probably profiles closer to that of Ayton’s than Towns’ or Davis’, that would still be a hell of an outcome with a meh lottery pick in a weak draft," Hollinger argued. "As with a player he’s frequently compared to -- Miami’s Bam Adebayo -- his height may be held against him at 6-foot-9. Unlike Adebayo, however, Okongwu shows enough promise as a shooter that he may be able to play next to a true 5 as his skill level progresses. He’s already a better post scorer than Bam, but he doesn’t have his ballhandling and passing skill."

Adebayo was just named a first-time All-Star in his third NBA season, but in terms of their collegiate production, Okongwu was more statistically impressive across the board. 

Are you sensing the trend here?

[RELATED: Report: Warriors didn't acquire Wiggins just to trade him]

Okongwu shot 61.6 percent from the field as a freshman and ranked second in the Pac-12 with an average of 2.7 blocks per game. He offers positional versatility, and won't turn 20 years old until December.

There's plenty of risk involved with all of the top prospects in the draft, but Okongwu might be the safest bet to live up to expectations.

What Ex-Warrior Andre Iguodala thinks of NBA's bubble environment

What Ex-Warrior Andre Iguodala thinks of NBA's bubble environment

Andre Iguodala has played over 1,100 NBA games, but his next eight (at least) will be very different. Iguodala and the Miami Heat are in Orlando preparing for the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season.

So, how is the former Warriors forward approaching the "bubble" at Disney World?

"It's not really a different type of environment," the 2015 NBA Finals MVP said Saturday after practice. "The majority of the league comes from low to middle-class income families. We played in worse conditions. Obviously the NBA and every team should be giving all the players all the resources they need.

"It's just getting the mental side right, making the most of the moment and putting forth the mental and physical effort to keep our game in a healthy place ... we're doing it as a collective. We're competing on the court, but hopefully the players are getting a chance to interact and keep each other in a good mental space."

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Iguodala -- one of the smartest players in the entire league -- understands the big picture and what's at stake for the NBA. He knows it won't be easy for everybody and that the logistics present challenges, but is willing to sacrifice for the greater good. So don't expect to hear any complaints from Iguodala when it comes to the food or accommodations in Orlando.

At 36 years old, it probably will take Iguodala a little longer to get himself to where he needs to be physically. But he made sure he put in the work while the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The body is solid," Iguodala said. "Just looking over the little nicks that may come up from being off so long ... everyone was getting after it throughout this time."

[RELATED: Spoelstra credits Iguodala's Warriors tenure for leadership]

Iguodala averaged just 4.4 points in 18.5 minutes over his first 14 games with the Heat.

But you definitely should expect his production and value to increase when the playoffs begin in mid-August.

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Why Kendrick Perkins gives Draymond Green 'D' grade for 2019-20 season

Why Kendrick Perkins gives Draymond Green 'D' grade for 2019-20 season

Kendrick Perkins gets paid to express his opinion.

And on Tuesday's episode of "The Jump" on ESPN, he voiced his thoughts on Draymond Green's 2019-20 campaign.

"Draymond disappointed me this season," the former NBA big man said. "I thought with the injury to Klay (Thompson) and the injury to Steph (Curry) he was gonna elevate his game offensively and shock the world. With him getting $100 million in the contract extension, I thought Draymond was gonna come out and prove a point.

"Also with them losing Kevin Durant, I thought we would see 'Defensive Player of the Year Draymond' ... (but) he took a few steps backwards. My expectations for Draymond Green were a little bit higher, and he didn't achieve it."

The truth is that it was a very, very frustrating year for Draymond.

The three-time NBA champion missed 22 games with various ailments, yet picked up a league-high 14 technical fouls. He shot below 39 percent from the field and less than 28 percent from 3-point range.

But as noted before, yours truly forever will give Draymond a pass for what transpired. There wasn't much incentive at all for the three-time All-Star after Steph broke his hand Oct. 30 against the Phoenix Suns, as the Warriors had no chance of reaching the postseason.

The truth is that Draymond needed a break -- physically and mentally -- after averaging 37.7 minutes over 104 Golden State playoff games from 2015 to 2019.

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It's unclear why Perkins would expect the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year to produce big considering he didn't have Steph, Klay, KD, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston on the court with him.

"To everybody out there who want to talk s--t about this year -- I don't really give a f--k," Draymond said in April on the "All the Smoke" podcast. "In my opinion, I got better. I got better as a player, I got better as a person and a leader ... and that's gonna make me even better for next year.

"So, I appreciate everybody talking. I kind of needed them to relight that fire under my a--."

[RELATED: Beef squashed? Draymond, Barkley team up on TV show]

Draymond definitely pays attention to what is being said about him, his teammates and the Warriors. He uses the noise as motivation when necessary.

Needless to say, the three-time All-Star wants to send a message to the doubters.

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