With the NBA season slated to open back up in Orlando, we are slowly moving towards the NBA Draft which has moved back from the end of June to the October 15.
Unlike the NFL Draft, the NBA Draft has a lottery system in an attempt to discourage tanking for top picks, but the non-playoff teams will have the top 14 picks.
Auburn’s Isaac Okoro is widely considered a top-10 pick with his defensive ability on the perimeter being a coveted trait in the NBA.
This season’s draft class is largely up in the air without a sure No. 1 prospect. The top nine players in the draft are commonly considered Okoro, Memphis center James Wiseman, Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton, international guard Killian Hayes, USC forward Onyeka Okongwu, international forward Deni Avdija, Dayton forward Obi Toppin and the well-traveled guard LaMelo Ball.
Okoro is most commonly projected in the 5-9 range in the draft. So where would be the best landing spot for the Auburn star to continue his development? This is not a prediction of where he will go, but rather a ranking of where it would help him the most.
1. Golden State
Golden State holds the best odds to end up with the No. 1 pick. If they do, the pick is highly unlikely to be Okoro, but if they drop in the lottery a bit, Okoro is the ideal fit.
Currently, the Warriors have Andrew Wiggins as their small forward, but in many ways Okoro is the anti-Wiggins. Wiggins has always been dogged for his defense, effort and toughness. Okoro hangs his hat on those traits.
Okoro’s biggest weakness, his shooting, is hidden well if he’d be paired with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Draymond Green’s toughness and defense also make him an ideal guy for Okoro to learn from and model his game after.
The Bulls are currently slated to pick seventh and this is my favorite spot to see Okoro mock drafted to.
Otto Porter Jr., is the Bulls small forward. The problem with Porter is he is hardly ever healthy. With Coby White, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen in the Bulls’ lineup, they have plenty of young, flashy scorers. What they are desperately missing is any element of defense among that group.
Okoro would be a huge step forward for the Bulls in their rebuilding efforts.
Another team which could use the culture change that adding a guy like Okoro could bring. The Wizards are currently in the No. 9 spot in this draft.
The biggest thing Washington brings to the table is that No. 1 scorer on the wing to take the pressure off Okoro to score. Former Gator Bradley Beal is that guy and he has the Wizards just outside of the playoffs in the East.
With Okoro and a possible return from John Wall, the Wizards could quickly climb into the playoffs the weaker of the NBA’s two conferences.
Small forward is considerably more crowded in Phoenix than some of the other spots with Kelly Oubre Jr., showing his prowess as a scorer and Mikal Bridges filling some of the defensive responsibilities that make Okoro so intriguing.
If Okoro can earn minutes over those guys, he fits very nicely with Phoenix stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.
Phoenix currently holds the No. 10 pick.
The Pistons are in no man’s land a bit with aging former stars Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin leading a team that seems to be heading for a big rebuild. They currently own the fifth pick.
Could Okoro be a the type of guy for Detroit to begin to rebuild their organization around. His toughness and defense are certainly qualities that are typically valued by that organization.
Another team desperate for defense to complement defensively-challenged stars D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns, Okoro feels like a good fit.
The Wolves, who own the No. 3 pick currently, spent a high selection on Jarrett Culver last year however and he and Okoro have a very similar skill set. If Okoro goes here, it would be the toughest spot we’ve seen yet for him to earn playing time.
The Hornets have the eighth pick currently. They have invested in big-bodied forwards P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges in recent years. Neither is a star by any means but they have shown flashes.
Charlotte could certainly benefit from adding Okoro, but they also have more glaring needs.
Like Minnesota, Atlanta could certainly use Okoro’s defense, but took a similar player last season with DeAndre Hunter. They also took another small forward in the top 10 with Cam Reddish.
Atlanta currently is slated to pick fourth.
Like Detroit, Cleveland seems to have no idea what they are doing. With a very young backcourt, they have a very old and expensive frontcourt with Andre Drummond and Kevin Love.
Cleveland currently has the No. 2 pick. This just feels like a toxic environment for young players to grow. LeBron James isn’t walking through that door.
10. New York
The Knicks have the No. 6 pick currently. In a top ten filled with rudderless franchises, the Knicks are the ultimate.