NBA Daily: Josh Okogie’s Motor Is Pro-Ready

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After two seasons as a main fixture at Georgia Tech, the time has come for Josh Okogie to take his game to the next level.

He leaves behind a short-lived collegiate career, but one that will be in the history books of the school.

Okogie was one of six players in the Yellow Jacket record books to record over a thousand points (1,033) before the end of their sophomore year. He averaged 18.2 points per game to finish fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring. It was the highest points per game average for a Georgia Tech player since Matt Harpring 20 years ago.

In addition, he tied for first in steals per game (1.8) with Syracuse’s Franklin Howard. The year prior to that, Okogie made the All-ACC freshman team and led the entire conference in free throws and free throw attempts.

For as much as he gets to the line, it’s apparent that Okogie attacks at will every time he gets the ball. When asked about what talents he’ll bring to the NBA, he narrowed his answer down to one thing and expanded upon a misconception regarding his skill set.

“My motor,” Okogie said at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. “When others get tired, I’m just starting. I like to pride myself on that and just keep going.

“People don’t think I can shoot. It’s funny. People think, ‘Oh he needs to work on shooting.’ And I’m like, I think I can really shoot the ball. But I mean, when a team takes a chance on me, I think they’ll be really impressed.”

It’s an odd criticism of Okogie considering he shot over 38 percent from three in both years that he played at Georgia Tech. But looking deeper into it, the detractors are likely referring to the drop in overall field goal percentage from season-to-season.

While his high usage remained the same, his conversion rate fell from 45.3 percent to 41.6 percent. Though that is an arguing point against Okogie, it should also be known that his true shooting percentage actually increased and he took quite a few more perimeter looks in year two.

The teams that are interested will do their in-depth research. Others may just base their opinion seeing the basic statistics. The thought around the league right now is that Okogie is projected to be a late first-round to early second-round selection.

Regardless of what happens, though, Okogie doesn’t worry about where he’s picked. In fact, he brought about the example of Paul Millsap, the 47th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, earning the third-highest salary in the whole league this past season.

“It’s so many stories of guys who have been picked this and that,” Okogie said. “I think it’s about situation and fit more than where you’re picked.

“Wherever you’re picked—unless you’re like the first-round pick—money is gonna be like two million, you know what I’m saying? It’s not a big difference. So it’s all about staying in the league, not necessarily just getting in.”

One week ago, Okogie announced his decision to remain in the 2018 draft class after a solid showing at the Combine. He told reporters then that the choice would be based on how ready he felt physically and mentally, as well as the competition against him.

The event was a big boost for Okogie, who took advantage of everything going on in the Windy City to get acquainted with professional circles and play the game he’s meant to play.

“I think that’s the biggest thing here is just forming relationships,” Okogie said of what to take out of the experience. “Because 10, 20, 30, 40 years down the road you never know what somebody you met today could do for you. I think just soaking all the information up and meet a lot of people and learn a lot of things.

“Something we’ve all been doing since we were growing up is playing. Right when we got on the court, everything became just so simple for everybody. I think that’s the best part about being here is just being on the court. Doing what you love in front of a lot of influential people.”

Okogie’s attitude about the entire pre-draft process and his easy going personality make him a strong candidate to be a great fit for any team looking for an athletic two-way guard.