With the NBA Draft just three weeks away, we are running out of time to go through all the prospects the San Antonio Spurs could be taking with their picks. This week’s prospect watch features a guy who would likely miss the entire season and would take a “redshirt” season of sorts due to a torn ACL.
That is Auburn forward Chuma Okeke who helped his team get to the Final Four before going down with the injury against North Carolina.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward is an excellent shooter from deep and can score out of the post as well. He gives great effort all over the floor and is a player you want in your locker room.
He could be an excellent “glue guy” for the Spurs and he has the skills to be a regular contributor as well. Here are some of his stats from his sophomore season.
- 12 PPG, 1.2 BPG, 1.8 SPG, 1.9 APG, 6.8 RPG
- 49.6 FG%, 38.7 3P%, 72.2 FT%
- 24.5 PER, 121.2 ORtg, 95.2 DRtg
While it appears Okeke didn’t score a whole lot, that is because he had two high usage teammates who did the scoring in Jared Harper and Bryce Brown. However, he did a lot of the dirty work that doesn’t show up in the box score and there were times when it actually did, like getting an offensive board or going after loose balls that turned into steals.
His effort is definitely one of the best parts of his game and something that any basketball fan can appreciate.
While the intangibles are nice to have, Okeke also has the shooting, physical and defensive abilities to excel at the NBA level. He’s strong enough to guard power forwards and quick enough to guard small forwards out on the perimeter.
He has a plus wingspan and is a solid enough athlete to stick with the faster guys he might guard. He’s also got great hands and vertical leap (pre-injury) as evidenced by his steal and block numbers. He could become a secret rim protector that the Spurs need beside Jakob Poeltl if things pan out right.
Some things that could use some work for the forward are his tendencies to become undisciplined on defense and ability to create his own shot. While the latter is not as important, he will definitely need to make sure he is not losing focus on the defensive end for this team as that will likely earn him more playing time in the 2020-21 season.
With Okeke, there are obvious risks in that he could come back from his ACL injury a lesser player. However, I am led to believe from everything he has done on the court that his work ethic in his rehab won’t be an issue. If he comes back the same or even better player than when he went in for surgery, the Spurs could see themselves getting a major steal here.