Hawks Draft Targets: Isaac Okoro

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NBA draft buzz and NBA trade season is heating up. The Suns just made a deal for Chris Paul, and the Lakers acquired Dennis Schroder — really solidifying both teams’ backcourts.

 

Potential Hawks target Jrue Holiday was flipped to Milwaukee for Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and a boatload of draft picks. That was quite the package for Holiday, and I don’t blame the Hawks for not giving up that much draft capital for an often injured all-star guard.

The Hawks have not made any moves yet, but many believe they are actively shopping the sixth pick of the draft on Wednesday. On a Zoom call with the media, Hawks GM Travis Schlenk told reporters the Hawks will probably stay put at #6, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Hawks find a trade partner on draft night.

We’ll see what unfolds, but right now, let’s look at another prospect the Hawks could be interested in with the 6th pick, Isaac Okoro, the 6’6 wing from Auburn University.

Strengths

Superb Defender: Okoro is an elite athlete who can step into the NBA and be a shutdown wing defender. He is quick on his feet and has great defensive instincts all around the basketball court, allowing him to guard ball handlers and hold his own down low in the post. Okoro is a defensive asset the Hawks need.

Rim Finishing: As an elite athlete, Okoro can finish at the rim with dunks and a myriad of different layups. With his back to the basket, in transition, and in the half-court, Okoro showed enough in his freshman season that he can finish at the rim at an efficient rate.

Positionless Player: Today’s NBA is defined more and more as being a positionless game. LeBron James is a point guard, Giannis is a primary ball-handler, Zion Williamson can play as a small-ball five. Okoro is truly a positionless basketball player 1-5. He is quick enough to defend ball handlers, and he is big and strong enough to hold his own in the post. With his athleticism and measurables, Okoro can be plugged in and play around anybody.

Weaknesses

Shooting Mechanics: Okoro has slow and clunky mechanics that will hurt him in the NBA. Defenses in college were already starting to sag off him because he is not a reliable three-point threat. He shot 29% from the three-point line and needs to be able to develop a consistent shot from behind the arc. Maybe NBA coaching and development will help him grow as a shooter.

Free Throw Shooting: Okoro shot 67% from the free-throw line as a Freshman at Auburn. Not a good sign for a 6’6 guard in the NBA. Free throw shooting is often a determining factor in a player’s shooting potential. Okoro might never become a consistent shooter in the NBA, and that will hurt his potential

Ball Handling:  Okoro, when not in transition, struggled off the dribble to create his own shot or something for others. He is not an isolation type player, and no NBA team wants him to be, but his ball-handling needs work on the offensive end.

Team Fit

Okoro can slide into the Hawks rotation and be an asset. He is an elite athlete who can slot on the wing and guard the opponent’s best player. He was a lockdown defender in college, and that should continue in the NBA. He needs to develop several areas of his game to reach his full potential, but Hawks fans will love his athleticism on both ends of the court.

Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

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