Future Watch: Onyeka Okongwu Basketball Cards, Atlanta Hawks

Future Watch: Onyeka Okongwu Basketball Cards, Atlanta Hawks – A high school teammate of Lonzo and LaMelo Ball, Onyeka Okongwu entered the NBA last month with the same expectations of so many in the 2020 draft class – that he will improve his offensive game and thus Atlanta’s capacity for floor spacing. But one of the league’s most intriguing new trends offers him another pathway to early relevance: becoming a playmaking five.

As the best-passing center since Wilt Chamberlain, Nikola Jokic at first appeared to be a unicorn – a big man capable of having his team’s offense flow through his hands. However, in a copycat league, some other teams began questioning whether they might have players that they had not thought to utilize in that manner. Unsurprisingly, Miami, which along with Denver has been elite at development of young players in recent years, brought these skills out in Bam Adebayo, a key cog in last year’s shocking NBA Finals run.

And so it is Adebayo that Okongwu himself has identified with, pointing first of all to their similarities in rim protection, moves in the pivot and overall athleticism. But it is Adebayo’s 5.1 assists per game last season that raised eyebrows: it’s a very unconventional way for centers to make their teammates better, by using their court vision. Okongwu has upside in terms of his ability to see the floor, but with an average of 1.1 assists in his year at USC, it will have to actively become a priority for both him and the Hawks to develop. But the career launches of Trae Young and John Collins attest to Atlanta’s ability to cultivate the core skills of their players.

Having been sidelined by a foot injury until January 15, his minutes-restricted opener checked multiple box score categories: four points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 14 minutes. He was also +1 in a 24-point Hawk loss, third on the team. As he develops, Okongwu’s energy and defense will provide tantalizing hints of the player that he can become.

Okongwu’s high draft rank (17th overall) ensured that the prospecting sets, such as Prizm Draft Picks and Contender Draft Picks, will be followed upon by full-out NBA rookie cards this season.

Future Watch: Onyeka Okongwu Basketball Cards, Atlanta Hawks – Stats

Per Game Table
Season Age Tm Lg Pos G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2020-21 20 ATL NBA C 1 0 14.0 2.0 6.0 .333 0.0 0.0 2.0 6.0 .333 .333 0.0 0.0 3.0 2.0 5.0 2.0 1.0 0.0 2.0 1.0 4.0
Career NBA 1 0 14.0 2.0 6.0 .333 0.0 0.0 2.0 6.0 .333 .333 0.0 0.0 3.0 2.0 5.0 2.0 1.0 0.0 2.0 1.0 4.0
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/18/2021.

Future Watch: Onyeka Okongwu Basketball Cards, Atlanta Hawks – Other Resources

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Rick Morris