After watching the Sixers crumble in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics, one thing became very clear: the Sixers do not just need wings who can shoot, but ones who are also capable of guarding out on the perimeter. At 6’4.5” with a 7’0” wingspan, could Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie fit the bill?
Offensively, Okogie can slot in as a wing who can play off-ball and knock down jumpers. He made 38.2 percent of his threes in his two years for Georgia Tech, a very respectable clip. He shot just under 36 percent on NBA threes, per thestepien.com, an above-average rate for a college wing. And because of a lackluster supporting cast, Okogie was forced to learn to initiate offense and get his own shot, averaging 18.2 points per game, albeit sometimes inefficiently. Okogie’s biggest flaw offensively is finishing at the rim, where he has often struggled. But, he got to the line at a very high rate (6.8 free throw attempts per game last season), and shot an equally impressive 82.1 percent from the line. Okogie has also demonstrated good cutting to the basket, which makes his fit with Ben Simmons even better. For this Sixers team, he would not be forced to play the role of a volume scorer with inefficient numbers- instead, rather he would get the opportunity to play off of the ball, get open looks from deep, and pick his spots when it comes to penetrating and trying to get to the rim, thanks to the relief provided to role players by Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and, hopefully, Markelle Fultz.
At the NBA Draft Combine, Okogie had a very strong showing on the defensive end thanks to his high motor, strength and ability to defend positions one through three. He's tough, evidenced by not just his high-caliber defense, but also his 6.3 rebounds per game last season despite being an averaged-sized guard. He is very smart defensively, and has great hands to match his IQ. He averaged one block per game as well as nearly two steals, statistics which are not an indicator of a good defender on their own, but combined with his tape and athletic profile, do help make it more clear that he can be a great defender at the next level. His combination of length, quickness, smarts, and strength make him a prospect who could potentially guard three positions.
Okogie is the exact type of wing the Sixers should be looking for on offense- a good shooter with the potential to become a secondary ball-handler. He fits as an off-ball shooter and cutter when Ben Simmons or Markelle Fultz is running the show, and when the offense is stuck, he could potentially emerge as a secondary ball-handler and provide a spark. And when you turn to defense, his potential fit in Philadelphia only makes more sense because of his potential versatility. Despite being just 19 years old and still having room to improve, Okogie already fits the exact mold of what the Sixers needed against Boston in the second round, and what they will need if they want to avenge the Celtics next year.
A few weeks ago, Okogie would have been a realistic target with the 38th or 39th pick. But his stock has since risen, and it seems unlikely he would be available that deep into the second round. Realistically, Okogie would be taken with the 26th pick by the Sixers, providing good value as a two-way player who fits exactly what this team needs. Whether or not Brett Brown and company consider him may depend on who else is on the board, but given his strengths that coincide with the needs of this team, Josh Okogie should be in strong consideration for the 26th pick.