Should the Cavs Go Small With Onyeka Okongwu?

CORVALLIS, OREGON - JANUARY 25: Onyeka Okongwu #21 of the USC Trojans reacts after a dunk during the first half against the Oregon State Beavers at Gill Coliseum on January 25, 2020 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images)

With the NBA draft coming up, one of the top prospects and best fits for the Cavs would be Onyeka Okongwu. The 6’9 big man has been projected at around the fifth pick for a while now, and with the future up in the air for Andre Drummond, Okongwu could be a great addition.

One of the reasons several teams are interested in Onyeka is because of his similarities to Bam Adebayo. With Adebayo’s emergence this year, many teams, front office personnel, writers, and analysts see a similar player to him in Okongwu, since he has a similar build and skill set. Here’s a quote from Bleacher Report comparing Okongwu to Adebayo, “Like Adebayo, Onyeka Okongwu will enter the league with a tremendous physical profile for a player who only spent one year in college. Okongwu is listed at 6’9″, 245 pounds with a reported wingspan over 7’0″. Adebayo is 6’9″, 255 pounds with a 7’2¾” wingspan. Both are strong and toned, and though Adebayo is lighter on his feet, Okongwu can similarly explode above the rim” (Wasserman, J). Adding a player like this to the Cavs’ roster could help their rebuild, providing their big man of the future. While Okongwu has certain flaws in his game, the Cavs could help him fix them.

Though he is a great defender, he is a below-average shooter. Only shooting 25% from three-point range in college, he will struggle at the professional level with similar numbers. He could fix this by working with players like Kevin Love – one of the best stretch fours in the league. With Love as his mentor, Okongwu could learn position rebounding and shooting. Though that won’t entirely fix his shooting woes, Okongwu could at least become a threat if left wide-open.

Okongwu may have some flaws in his game, but he has many positives. According to the site Tankathon, his stat strengths include FG%, Blocks, PER, TS%, EFG%, Def Rating, Off Box +/-, Draft Age, Steals, Win Shares, Box +/-, Off Rebounds, Def Win Shares, Off Win Shares, and Off Rating. Like Adebayo, his height on defense allows him to be able to guard one-through-five, and with defensive matchups being a problem for the Cavs, Okungwu would be a good addition on that end of the floor.

If the Cavs have a starting lineup looking like Darrius Garland, Collin Sexton, Kevin Porter Jr., Kevin Love, and Okongwu next year, and are looking to trade players like Drummond, they could take a big step forward in their rebuild.

Sources

Onyeka Okongwu 2020 Draft Profile. (2020). Retrieved from http://www.tankathon.com/players/onyeka-okongwu

Perilli, J. (2020). Onyeka Okongwu [Digital image]. Retrieved from https://hoopshabit.com/2020/03/07/2020-nba-draft-prospect-onyeka-okongwu/

Wasserman, J. (2020, March 26). 2020 NBA Draft: Historical and Current Pro Comparisons for Projected Top Picks. Retrieved from https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2882603-2020-nba-draft-historical-and-current-pro-comparisons-for-projected-top-picks

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