The 2018 draft has some good 3 + D wings outside of the top 10 such as Mikal Bridges, Miles Bridges, Troy Brown, and Jacob Evans. But nobody is talking about Josh Okogie, who is only ranked #46 on ESPN and may be the gem of the class
Why Does He Have No Hype?
Because he plays for an awful Georgia Tech team. He didn’t get many high major offers as he wasn’t a top 100 recruit, so he settled for the major conference team close to home.
It’s easy to see why he wasn’t a top 100 recruit. He is super young for his class, and was less developed than his high school peers. He is only 6’4″, not super athletic, and not a big time shot creator. He doesn’t check the most easily discernible boxes, so it makes sense that recruiting services would overlook him.
Before his freshman year, Georgia Tech was considered a threat to go 0-18 in ACC play by stat models, common narratives, and yours truly. But 18 year old Okogie and junior Ben Lammers led them to the #6 kenpom defense, a respectable 8-10 ACC record, and a trip to the NIT finals. They deserve a parade for this, as the Yellow Jackets were one of the biggest overachievers in the 16-17 NCAA season.
As a sophomore the Jackets took a small step back, but that can be in part blamed on his coach, cast, and bad luck. Overall Okogie’s two years at Georgia Tech were a huge success given the circumstances.
Okogie’s physical profile is overall terrific, as he has a 7’0″ wingspan and a strong frame to go along with above average athleticism and good quickness.
His length and strength give him ability to guard NBA wings, and his quickness gives him the ability to defend guards. With the tools to hold his own against any position 1-4, he has elite versatility in heavily switching defenses that are prevalent in the modern NBA.
He is also disruptive as a team defender, as he uses his length effortlessly to deflect passes and block shots.
Granted, he is not guaranteed to be a lockdown defensive player. He is mistake prone as he makes unnecessary gambles and sometimes gets beat due to mental lapses. He’s not a Marcus Smart or Justise Winslow level defensive wizard. But he atones for this with an excellent motor, and often hustles his way back into the play after he is beat.
Okogie offers a rare intersection of switching versatility, disruptive playmaking, and non-stop motor. Most of his mistakes stem from being too aggressive, and could be reduced over time with more experience and better coaching. Okogie has excellent defensive potential, and is firmly in the conversation for best defensive wing prospect in the draft.
Offensively Okogie is a work in progress, but one area where he shines is shooting. He made 78% of his FT’s (82% as a sophomore) and 38% of his 3’s during his two years at Georgia Tech. This is really good for an 18/19 year old wing who is younger than freshmen Michael Porter Jr. and Mo Bamba.
He has a rudimentary handle and can get to the rim on straight line drives, but is mostly limited as a creator. He led the Yellow Jackets in usage (27% both years) because the rest of the team is so dreadful they don’t have any better options. Because of his limited handling and athleticism, he struggles to finish near the rim on these occasions and had just a 43% 2P as a sophomore (45% overall).
He showed good potential as a cutter as a freshman, scoring 82nd percentile PPP as per synergy on 1.8 possessions per game. As a sophomore he declined to 0.9 cuts per game with 24th percentile PPP. To my eye he moves off the ball well and the sophomore decline is possibly attributable to his sub-optimal environment.
He has a long way to go to become more than a guy who can move the ball, make 3’s, score off the ball, and attack closeouts. But at 19, he has enough physical advantages to have some creation upside if he develops better than expected.
3 + D
Josh Okogie is the quintessential 3 + D prospect. His 3 and free throw stroke are decisively good, and he has upside to be a great shooter. The same can be said for his defense. He is not GOATish in either area, but offers a rare intersection of good at both,
His creation upside spices up his prospect value with a nice upside scenario. Even if he seems like a boring non-creator who will likely not peak higher than players such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Wes Matthews, or Danny Green, there is some potential for more. Nobody talked about Donovan Mitchell or Kawhi Leonard’s upside pre-draft, so why will Josh Okogie not surprise like them?
Kawhi’s DX profile notes similar weaknesses to Okogie (non-elite athlete, struggles to finish off the dribble) and the only major difference is that Okogie is 3″ shorter in both height and length. This is a significant disadvantage, but Kawhi minus 3 inches would nevertheless be a great player.
This is not to say Okogie WILL be Kawhi minus 3 inches. He may not be on the same level cerebrally, and likely will not match Kawhi’s NBA defensive and creation value. But based on current information the possibility cannot be ruled out, and he at least has a small chance of becoming mini-Kawhi. The same cannot be said for Mikal Bridges, as his creation limits are far more significant given his meager 15% usg at ages 19/20.
The only other prospect who offers similar 3 + D value is Mikal Bridges. But Bridges is a bit more than two years older, not clearly better in either category, and does not have the same sneaky star potential as Okogie. Further, Bridges’ low freshman + sophomore usage may indicate subtle flaws that give him a lower floor than Okogie.
There are reasons to like Bridges, as he is hyperefficient in his low usage role and Villanova has been the #1 or #2 kenpom team in all three of his seasons there. He knows how to win, has solid Trevor Ariza potential, and is a fine choice in the 15-20 range.
But in terms of NBA upside, Okogie shines as the superior talent. He is the best 3 + D wing prospect in the draft, and is clearly worth a lottery selection. I expect Okogie to rise up draft boards as he outshines higher rated scrubs such as Chandler Hutchison and Aaron Holiday throughout the draft process.