San Antonio Spurs Prospect Watch: KZ Okpala


The Spurs are deep in their playoff series with the Denver Nuggets and trail two games to three. They’ve got their sixth game of the series coming up at home and while that may be exciting, there’s also the NBA Draft right around the corner.

I’ve got another draft prospect to get you prepared for that.

This particular fellow should go in the first round and he will likely be a top-20 as the Spurs cannot afford to let him fall to a later pick than the 20-spot they own.

I refer to KZ Okpala of Stanford who is a 6-foot-9, 215-pound wing. While playing in a down Pac-12 and for a bad Stanford team, he did stand out and made it pretty clear he has NBA-level talent. Here are some of his stats from the season:

  • 16.9 PPG, 1 SPG, 2 APG, 5.7 RPG
  • 46.5 FG%, 37.5 3P%, 67.1 FT%
  • 18.3 PER, 103.9 ORtg, 101.2 DRtg

Okpala has the size and length you want to see in an NBA wing player and has the athleticism to play on the wing too. He can finish among the trees and has a really nice, soft touch around the rim.

His long strides and arms get him where he needs to go and he usually ends up within four or five of the rim where he can easily get his shots off.

He is a good three-point shooter when his feet are set and he is projected to be a solid shooter at the next level. Okpala only attempted three triples a game though so it’s a bit of a small sample size. He did drastically improve his shooting percentages from his freshman year though and that definitely bodes well.

Okpala has a few things to work on before he gets extended minutes for San Antonio though.

He can start by tightening up his handles as he is a bit turnover prone and can’t quite break down his defender to create his own shot.

He is good on a blow-by and attacking an aggressive closeout, but has a hard time getting by anyone in a set stance who moves his feet well.

However, he can start or finish a fastbreak, certainly a valuable skill as that makes him more versatile.

Getting stronger will help with his ball handling as well his playmaking abilities. He has shown flashes of being able to create for his teammates but didn’t have a game with more than five assists all year and the only one of those came in the first game against Seattle.

He wouldn’t be asked to create all too much for the Spurs with the other guards they have, but he will have to show the willingness and ability to pass when the team is penetrating, pitching and repeating until defenders are completely out of position.

The young man is a nice player right now with the potential to become a staple in someone’s rotation and be a solid contributor off the bench and eventually in the starting lineup.

Okpala has drawn comparisons to Trevor Ariza and a more fine-tuned Bruno Caboclo as of now. With some weight on him and some luck, he could be another Ariza, which would be a great get for the Spurs.


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