|Soph.||6’8″ 230||Small Forward||Auburn||20 Yrs. Old|
|12 ppg||6.8 rpg||1.9 apg||FG: 49.6%||3 PT: 38.7%|
NBA Comparison: Justise Winslow
Strengths: Athleticism, Length, Perimeter Defense, Outside Shooting
Weaknesses: Health, Average Production
Coming into the season Okeke was viewed as a potential late first or early second round pick, and by most accounts he was on his way to being taken in the first round before the NCAA tournament. He played well in the first three rounds, and scored 20 points and 11 rebounds against North Carolina before tearing a ligament in his knee late in the game. His measurements at 6’8″ with a 7 foot wingspan are ideal for a wing, and pre-injury he was a high level athlete. Defensively Okeke should have no problem defending on the wing, being able to get steals and the occasional block. His solid rebounding ability to go with his lock down defense are areas of his game that will allow him to compete for minutes as he becomes more comfortable offensively. One of the more intriguing parts of his game is the fact that he has shot the ball at a high level since arriving at Auburn. As a freshman he shot 39.1% on three point attempts, and as a sophomore he shot 38.7%. There is most likely room to grow as he receives more usage, with his most attempts being the 3.7 he put us as a sophomore. If he can maintain the same level of consistency as his usage goes up, his game will translate very well to the professional level. Okeke’s mid-range game is consistent as well, also showcasing the ability to get by a defender attacking the basket and finishing at the rim.
Considering the injury suffered against UNC was late in the season, what his game will look like when he returns from injury is a mystery. There are players who don’t lose much athleticism at all, and others who seem to never be the player that they were pre-injury. This unknown has certainly hurt his draft stock, and how Okeke returns from his injury will be a gamble for any team drafting him. Despite the potential he showed before his injury, the production was not what you usually see from a potential first round pick. For context, he did play in a system that had both Jared Harper, and Bryce Brown who are high level scorers at the college level. The offensive analytics are solid with the usage he did receive, and one would think that means he could grow into offensive focal point. Nonetheless, it can be a concern when a potential draft pick took a back seat role on a college team, however that is much more of an issue when you are talking about a first round pick on a bad team. The two main story lines going forward for the sophomore will be how well can he play after returning from his injury, and can he become a go to scorer at the next level.
This play shows his ability to get a steal and lead the fastbreak:
This clip gives you an idea of his ability to finish at the rim:
Chuma Okeke 😤😤— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 12, 2019
The bench reaction 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/P0GpuroBMU
After the injury Okeke is now viewed as a second round pick. He could go anywhere from the early part of the round to the back half, it will all depend on how each team views his potential after returning from the injury, and also is willing to wait for him to be fully healthy. His ceiling as professional is starter level wing, possibly in a sixth man role, putting up solid offensive numbers to go with lock down defense on the perimeter. The worst case scenario for Okeke is that after being drafted he is never able to reach the potential he was thought to have before his injury, leading him to a limited role on an NBA team, or playing in another league.