USC center Onyeka Okongwu is now being connected to the Golden State Warriors, if they are picking fifth overall.
With three months to go before the NBA draft, mock drafts will connect just about every top draft prospect to the Golden State Warriors, but a new name is emerging.
Interestingly, both NBC Sports and The Athletic not only agreed on the player but the position in which the Warriors will be drafting.
It should be noted that any mock draft released before the draft lottery takes place is more of a rough draft than a finished piece. That said, the Warriors and any other lottery pick team will not know exactly where they are picking until the lottery takes place on August 25, 2020.
Golden State finished with the worst overall record at 15-50 in the 2019-2020 season, which assures that they will pick no lower than the fifth overall spot.
Okongwu is not the only center the Warriors have been connected to either. More commonly, mock drafts have connected them to top center prospect James Wiseman out of the University of Memphis.
Unlike Wiseman, who missed most of the 2020 season due to a suspension, Okongwu has much more of a sample to work with at USC. The freshman center appeared in 28 games where he posted 16.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 2.7 BPG while shooting 62 percent from the field.
Despite the impressive scoring output, Okongwu’s overall offensive profile is still a work in progress. His ball-handling skills are less-than-ideal making it difficult to create his own shots.
On top of this, his three-point shooting was nearly nonexistent as he made only one of four three-point attempts. Though, the only shot he did make from beyond the arc was pretty memorable.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 28, 2020
With that being said, Okongwu brings a physicality to the floor, especially on defense, that the Warriors need. Miles Jasper of The Lineups gives his overall impression of the 6-foot-9 center.
“I absolutely love Onyeka Okongwu. He has everything you can ask for from a modern NBA big man. He’s can guard all five positions, plays longer than his frame, and has the timing to be an elite shot-blocker. He hustles, plays with physicality, and has a high defensive IQ. While he has room to improve on the offensive side of the ball, mainly his interior passing, shooting, and footwork, he shows potential. He shot an impressive 72% from the line which lets me know he can grow into his shot with discipline and proper coaching. Overall, I think he is a high floor, high ceiling prospect that will thrive in the modern NBA.”
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The Warriors are in need of some extra defensive prowess and Onyeka Okongwu could provide that.
It is no secret that the Warriors lost a lot of defensive prowess with the departures of Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston in the 2019 offseason.
The potential to guard all five positions excites me as well as the ability to become an elite rim protector. With the seeming regression of Draymond Green’s defense last season, the Warriors starting lineup needs more defensive acumen and ability.
Though Okongwu’s offensive game is still developing, the Warriors do not need a scoring force from their center. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins will be expected to carry the load on the first unit.
By drafting the USC center, Golden State would be sending a different message to Chriss, who just finished a nice season.
The draft is still several months away. Publications will continue to publish updated iterations of their mock drafts.
So far, the Warriors have been connected to many of the top draft prospects, but we will get further clarity once the draft order is determined at the end of August.
Either way, drafting Okongwu checks off several boxes as Golden State looks to retool for next season.