Age: 19 (January 26, 2001)
Weight: 225 lbs
Okoro’s defense will be his biggest strength at the next level. He has great lateral quickness, understands angles, and is great at closing air-space between him and ball. What this means is that he can be pressing the ball practically because he is that smart and quick to still stay in front of his man and not get burned. Against many of this year’s top prospects, he locked down 1v1 because he knows how to make ball-handlers uncomfortable and can contest shots easily because he is already so close to his man when defending on the ball. Off the ball, Okoro does have some things to learn in terms of rotations and knowing when he’s helping too much but you love the willingness to help as he is more than a willing charge taker as well as a surprisingly decent weak-side rim protector. He has good instincts averaging 0.9 BPG at 6’6”. On the offensive end, he does a lot of things a coach likes to see. He doesn’t dribble without a purpose and he also is always willing to make the extra pass. He has zero ego as Bruce Pearl (Auburn Head Coach) would call him “The 6th Senior” even though he was a freshman. That says volumes about his maturity at 19. In the half court, he was at his best when slashing as he is pretty athletic, has a decent first step, and decent touch around the rim. He’s not special in this area but this should still translate with the spacing the NBA provides. As a shooter, he rarely tested his shot in game, but the jumper itself looks better than the numbers suggest. He’s got good balance and a lot of his flaws are ones that can be taught. His ability to handle the ball is alright for an NBA small forward. Okoro is an average passer for a forward already, because he’s always got his head up. He also can do a lot of damage on the break with his combination of speed and athleticism.
Isaac Okoro’s jump shot will be the first thing he needs to try and improve, but it shouldn’t take him too long to be at least competent as a catch and shoot threat. He needs to improve his rotation is the main priority and just keeping the rest of his mechanics consistent as he has a good-looking jumper, but only on occasion. These are two areas though that should be fixed/improved early in his career. Okoro’s lack of ball-handling will most likely limit him to playing as a forward rather than a guard. While he does a great job of keeping his head up and looking to make a play for a teammate, he needs to learn to be selfish more often. He will sometimes pass up open shots trying to get the perfect shot and that is why he averaged 2 turnovers per game despite a somewhat low usage rating. He should gain the confidence pretty quickly at least to where he is taking shots when they come his way. When he is driving, he can definitely improve his off hand like many young prospects, but just looking to be more assertive at times will help with his slashing game overall. As a defender, the biggest flaw is that he doesn’t create many steals for being a “lockdown” defender. He is very conservative in the way he defends. Okoro rarely gambles to make a play. He also didn’t fight over screens, but Auburn ran a very switch-heavy scheme so that is not even worth defining as a true weakness. The biggest achilles heel for Okoro is the lack of upside. When you watch him, it is evident he is just a role-player and nothing more. He’s not going to be a top 3 scoring option for a team. Okoro will likely never average more than 15.0 PPG. Guys like him can’t change their mindset overnight. They are just not wired like that. He’s not going to take “bad-shots” when he gets to the NBA level because he doesn’t want to become “the liability.” That fear I don’t see going away, so despite the natural assumption that he has all-star potential is a false hope.
Even without the lack of star potential, he is still going to be a productive player at the NBA level. He is a very safe pick with a fairly high floor as he can fit in a lot of different systems and play next to ball-dominant players. He would be a good pick for a team in the 7-14 range that already has their “stars” in place and he could just play his role. Teams that should be interested are the Bulls, Wizards, and Pelicans. The jump shot is a negative for now, but like mentioned previously, he should improve rather quickly as the shot itself doesn’t look all that bad, just needs to be more consistent and get more rotation which are easy fixes once ur dedicating your life to the sport. Okoro is a pro’s pro already and mature well beyond his years. His defense will serve a big purpose as he can defend the opponents best player 1-3. Okoro’s defense will always be his calling card, but his willingness to always play hard no matter how many touches he gets on offense is a trait many NBA veterans don’t even have. Overall, Okoro is expected to be a very good role player at the NBA level.
Article Written by Bradley Patten
Stats found on Sports-Reference (https://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/isaac-okoro-1.html)
Photo credit to Michael Woods (https://www.al.com/auburnbasketball/2020/02/isaac-okoro-expected-to-travel-with-auburn-to-georgia.html?outputType=amp)