Bulls Insider

Why Bulls, and many others, are intrigued by Onyeka Okongwu

Bulls Insider

At first, whispers of the Bulls’ predraft interest on Onyeka Okongwu centered on whether the franchise would really use the No. 4 pick in the Nov. 18 NBA draft on another big man.

Now, the question is: Will Okongwu be on the board?

Perhaps no player has created more predraft buzz and helped his standing than the 6-foot-9 USC product. There’s a reason for that beyond Okongwu’s youth, athleticism and defensive instincts.

That reason is Bam Adebayo.

The Heat big man’s emergence as one of those fluid big men who can change games defensively and contribute offensive versatility put observers on notice. An executive from each conference, speaking to NBC Sports Chicago anonymously on background, used Adebayo as a comp for Okongwu. Both also pointed to his age -- he turns 20 in December -- as a reason for excitement over his upside.

An Eastern Conference scout who watched Okongwu cited his advanced ability to play angles effectively in pick-and-roll coverage, not to mention his willingness to switch onto smaller opponents. Both are strong traits for the modern NBA. He also possesses a reported 7-2 wingspan.

Offensively, the scout said Okongwu has a high motor and pursues offensive rebounds and lob dunks with purpose. However, his game away from the rim needs work. He possesses a slow windup on his jumper, which is more of a set shot than anything.

Multiple mock drafts now list Charlotte taking Okongwu at No. 3. That wasn’t the case when the whispers of the Bulls’ interest first surfaced.


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