The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...
2020 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Onyeka Okongwu
2019/20 stats: 27 G, 30.6 mpg, 16.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 2.7 bpg, 61.6 FG% (6.3/10.1), 25.0 3PT% (0.0/0.1), 72.0 FT%
Player comparison: Tristan Thompson, Bam Adebayo
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 9th, Sports Illustrated 8th, Ringer 5th, NBADraft.net 8th, Bleacher Report 7th
5 things to know:
*There is a consensus by a majority of the mock drafts that Okongwu is the second big man to go off of the board in this year's draft. Even at 6-foot-9, he's unstoppable in the post and an imposing force. He does everything that a team would ask of a traditional big man. Okongwu is not afraid to challenge any opponent that stands in his way and will work harder than his opposition.
*His range of coverage and shot-blocking ability are the most enticing parts of Okongwu's game. Despite his physique, he has the versatility to guard all positions on the court and a knack for reading shots. A stellar on-ball defender, he still cleans up the boards nicely and can completely take over a game on the defensive end.
*Okongwu went to Chino Hills High School, the same one as the three Ball brothers. He played with all three while in school. With that much personality, Okongwu was shuffled back in the spotlight and was ultimately ranked only 20th in his recruiting class. In 2016, he and LaMelo Ball shared the MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year honor.
*His debut with the Trojans took the fanbase by storm. While against lowly Florida A&M, he completely took over with game-highs in points (20), rebounds (13) and blocks (8) all in 25 minutes. He became the first USC player to record a double-double in his first game since Taj Gibson, who also had a nice NBA career.
*Okongwu has worn No. 21 as his jersey number since 2014. He wears that in honor of his older brother, Nnamdi, who died from a skateboarding accident that same year.
Fit with Wizards:
There is no denying that the Wizards are devoid of a post presence of shot-blocking and rebounding. It's been a noted need since the departure of Marcin Gortat.
Okongwu would fit that gap in the Wizards roster, almost instantly. He's a rim protector and a great rebounder. If the Wizards are addressing that spot in the draft, Okongwu is more likely to be available where the team is picking than fellow big man James Wiseman. Washington would need some help from the ping-pong balls to get Wiseman. He's not falling to the ninth pick.
Some evaluators, though, feel that Okongwu is a better long-term prospect than the potential No. 1 pick. Comparisons have him to 2017 draftee Bam Adebayo, who became an All-Star after three seasons. Okongwu hasn't shown range, but his fundamentals and soft-touch show that he could develop it.
His defensive prowess and rebounding skill will be why the Wizards draft him, but he can more than hold his own offensively. Okongwu has all the bells and whistles in terms of post moves to be able to create his own shot, which means he could be inserted into a lineup immediately.
If past history is any indicator of how the Wizards will pick, Okongwu is another guy that fits what Tommy Sheppard values. The USC center has the fundamentals, motor and does all the little things on the court.
In NBC Sports Washington's mock he does fall to the Wizards at No. 9, but other mocks don't have Washington as lucky.
Best highlight video:
MORE PROSPECT PROFILES: