Should the Knicks Look to Draft Isaac Okoro?

Kris Pursiainen

[This is the 13th prospect in the 2020 draft that I've done a breakdown on. You can read about Cole Anthony here, Deni Avdija here, Tyrese Haliburton here, Anthony Edwards here, RJ Hampton here, Killian Hayes here, Onyeka Okongwu here, Obi Toppin here, Devin Vassell here, LaMelo Ball here, Tyrese Maxey here, or Kira Lewis Jr. here.]

Isaac Okoro is a 6'6", 225 pound wing from Auburn University. In his lone campaign there as a freshman, he contributed averages of 12.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.9 blocks, and 0.9 steals per game on a 51.4 FG%. 

On offense, Okoro has a great skillset for the modern NBA. He can do a bit of everything, but isn't particularly great at anything. I made a similar comment about Deni Avdija's overall game, but since then Avdija seems to have significantly improved his shot form. 

I seem to subconsciously group the player I project Okoro to become in the NBA with players such as Marcus Smart and 2015 Andre Iguodala; he's a great finisher whether there is contact or not, a high-IQ player who makes smart passes and is often willing to defer to a teammate when needed. When he does have the ball, Okoro can execute pick-and-roll plays as an initiator, as well as displays a knack for efficient shot selection.

Okoro's shot mechanics need some touching up, but with proper development I project him to, on offense, be a secondary or tertiary playmaker with the starters if he's cracked his rotation's starting five, or (or as well as) playing effectively against players lower on his opponents' depth chart.

On defense, Okoro is a quite-switchable individual defender who possesses the athleticism and strength to at least be able to guard other wings his size or slightly larger, as well as any smaller wings or guards. Only against a team like the Houston Rockets would Okoro be able to contain the opposing center, but his ability to guard essentially any player from the modern "1" to "4" position is quite impressive. 

As a team defender, Okoro used a good amount of a given game's defensive possessions to remind those watching of his high basketball IQ. He performed well within Auburn's defensive scheme, in part due to his ability to recognize when and to where to rotate, as well as astutely digging and making other defensive motions as to impede an offense's ball movement.

If Okoro was the best player available when the Knicks were on the clock in the lottery, I would encourage Leon Rose & Co. to select him, as the team simply isn't in a position to pass up on talent for a "better-fitting" prospect. His lack of ability to consistently create or make shots from deep highly concerns me, considering that neither RJ Barrett nor Mitchell Robinson can do either of those things. 

Okoro's defensive ability and high-level understanding of the game on both ends of the floor will allow him to be an asset for whatever team selects him, but I think there are numerous better situations for Okoro than New York, as well as numerous better prospects for the Knicks than the Auburn freshman. 

I strongly believe Okoro will be getting selected in the lottery, but if the Knicks stayed at their current standing of six, or moved up, I likely wouldn't expend that pick on Okoro's services. If, once again, the lottery did not produce favorable results for New York, Okoro might be someone for new assistant general manager and director of college scouting Walt Perrin to take a look at.

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