The NBA season is upon us. The Atlanta Hawks kick off the start of the 2023-2024 campaign on Wednesday against the Hornets, and they’ll be doing so with a very happy Onyeka Okongwu. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Okongwu has signed a four-year, $62 million extension to stay in Atlanta.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 23, 2023
Okongwu was set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. The Hawks would have been able to match any offer sheet he signed, but I would have been willing to bet he could have gotten more money if he waited, making this a fantastic deal for the Hawks.
Okongwu is still just 22-years-old and has served in a reserve role as Atlanta’s backup center behind Clint Capela. He’s coming off the best season of his young career, averaging 9.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in just 23.1 minutes.
Onyeka Okongwu is primed to eventually become the Hawks starting center. It’s just a matter of when. Clint Capela remains under contract. He’s a terrific rebounder and defensive presence. His chemistry with Trae Young on the offensive end is also undeniable.
Okongwu, however, offers a bit of a different skill set. He doesn’t have the size of Capela, but he remains a stout rim protector that has the athleticism to defend on the perimeter when necessary. Okongwu is also a much smoother offensive player with the ball in his hand. He has better touch around the rim and is a far better passer. We’ll see how Quin Snyder utilizes the combination this season, but this contract all but guarantees Onyeka Okongwu is the Hawks starting center of the future.
Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire