There’s no question amongst scouts that Georgia Tech‘s Josh Okogie is going to be tough to play offense against. At the NBA Draft Combine, he led the whole combine in max vertical and 3⁄4 court sprint. Josh is only 6’4”, but has a 7 foot wingspan. Okogie is freakishly athletic for his size. The only question is his shot.
His athleticism helps Josh be a great cutter and mover without the ball, but that’s where the “certainity” stops. Elite athlete but not so elite shooting the ball. Okogie was 43.7% from the floor for his college career, and 38.2% from three.
So, Okogie is a great defender with great athletic abilities whose offensive game doesn’t fully translate to the next level. Who does that sound like??
Now, I hear what you’re saying already. “Tony was a better offensive guy in college.” Not exactly true. Tony Allen averaged 15.6 ppg and 5.5 rpg in his 3 years of college ball. Okogie averaged 16.9 ppg and 5.8 rpg. Assists? Allen 3.0 apg and Okogie 2.0 apg. Steals? Allen 1.35 spg and Okogie 1.5 spg.
Is it a stretch to call Okogie the next Tony Allen? Maybe. But for everyone that still thinks Grit and Grind is alive and well, Okogie may be the guy to bring it back from the edge of destruction. One other name attached by some as a good comparison is Robert Covington, which lines up statistically, but I think Okogie is much more of a “freak” athlete than Covington at this point in their careers. Also, Covington is 5 inches taller than Okogie and puts up the same offensive and defensive numbers, which is even more impressive on paper.
As former Memphis Tigers Head Coach Josh Pastner says early in the above video, Okogie is an “effective player because he’s an energy giver.” Motor will never be a question with Okogie. The title of that package calls him “Georgia Tech’s Fire Starter.” He led the Jackets in points per game even though he missed 8 games through the season. Josh rebounds well for his size, finishing 4th in the ACC among guards. Josh also did a great job of using his athleticism to average a little over 2 offensive rebounds a game and get the ball to the rim and draw contact.
As I stated at the beginning, Josh isn’t an “elite” shooter. Okogie‘s shot mechanics could be an issue as well considering his size. He has a direct, low (and sometimes slow) release that could get blocked often. Josh sometimes in pressure situations makes bad decisions with the ball, either taking ill advised shots or just throwing the ball away. Okogie averaged a little under 3 turnovers per game this past season at Georgia Tech, but at times was bailed out by his athletic abilities by drawing fouls, which won’t be as easy at the NBA level.
Fit with the Grizzlies
He’s probably not going to compete to be a starter wherever he lands, but Josh’s best usage right now may be as a 3 and D player off-the-bench, but could knock down some shots especially in catch-and-shoot situations. Josh would fit into the role left open by a player like (to a much lesser extent) Vince Carter. The curious thing to me still, is will his defending be elite enough that you can leave him on the floor knowing you won’t get a ton of offense (right now) from him? On a team that currently needs to get more athleticism on the wings, Okogie could fill a need if he can refine his shot and continue to bring the fire he showed in college.
If Okogie is still that guy, we could have the next Grindfather on our hands.