Knicks Draft: Is Onyeka Okongwu the answer for New York?

Onyeka Okongwu, 2020 NBA Draft prospect (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Onyeka Okongwu, 2020 NBA Draft prospect (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Feb 27, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans forward Onyeka Okongwu (21) celebrates at the end of the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Galen Center. USC defeated Arizona 57-48. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Making the case for Okongwu

While Onyeka Okongwu wasn’t a threat from the outside, attempting a total of four 3-pointers in his lone season at USC, he showed he was capable of doing everything else you would want from a modern-day center.

He has been compared to Bam Adebayo due to his size and ability, which is high praise. He was a 5-star recruit coming out of Chino Hills High School where he played with all three Ball brothers. He was so good that in his junior season the coach decided to make him the focal point of the offense, not LaMelo Ball. That is why LaMelo’s dad, Lavar Ball, took him out of school.

Okongwu was named Mr. Basketball for the state of California twice, one of only five players to ever accomplish that honor. He also led a Ball-less Chino Hills team to the state championship.

The kid is a winner and a grinder. When asked to describe himself, he note that he is defensive player, first. He loves getting after it on that side of the court. Aside from being a great pick-and-roll defender, he is also a great rim protector. He average over 5 blocks per 100 possessions at USC.

On the offensive side of the ball, he is an effective rim runner and has a good post game. While his outside shot needs work, he did shoot 72 percent from the free throw line, which is usually a good indicator of whether a player will develop into a good outside shooter.

As stated earlier, I, like most Knick fans, love Mitch and don’t think the team would trade him. But it has to be considered, especially as the Knicks need to decide what kind of financial commitment they are willing to make to him long-term.

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If the Knicks don’t think Robinson will be worth the price tag, then they need to move him. If that is the case, then Okongwu looks like the right player to replace him. He has Thibs’ culture written all over him and fits the new era of basketball we are entering, the age of AD (Anthony Davis).