NBA Draft: Elie Okobo offers intriguing option for Brooklyn Nets

Elie Okobo is one of the most intriguing point guards in this NBA draft. On one hand, he’s an elite offensive talent with a clearly high basketball IQ and high potential, however he’s significantly behind where he needs to be athletically and still makes reckless mistakes with the ball. I can easily envision a future where Okobo is torching teams on a nightly basis en route to multiple All-Star bids, but it’s just as easy to think of him consistently showing tantalizing potential, yet frustratingly never capitalizing on it. Here’s why:

Player specifics:

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 180

Brooklyn Nets 2017-2018 Nike Jerseys

Wingspan: 6’8″

Position: Point Guard

Age: 20

Team: Pau-Lacq-Orthez

Home town: Bordeaux, France

Statline:

Per Game Table
Season G MP FG% 3P% 2P% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
2015-16 6 2.2 .250 .250 .250   0.5 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.8
2016-17 19 13.8 .440 .366 .529 .846 2.2 1.6 0.6 0.1 0.9 4.8
2017-18 34 26.3 .475 .394 .555 .819 2.8 4.8 0.9 0.2 2.7 12.9
  59 19.8 .464 .385 .545 .823 2.3 3.3 0.7 0.2 1.8 9.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/13/2018.

Skills:

Pick-and-Roll Prowess

This may seem a tad benign given the fact that executing a pick-and-roll effectively is a pre-requisite for being an NBA-caliber point guard, but it’s the foundation upon which Okobo’s game is built. He’s already an elite navigator of the play, both as a scorer and a passer, and he already appears to understand the complexities and nuances of the screen that often take young point guards years to learn.

Throughout his time overseas, he’s exhibited a preternatural understanding of speed and timing that should instantly make him a weapon in the NBA. Watch how he probes the defense for just long enough for his teammate to get open before delivering a perfect bounce pass:

There are some five-year veterans who couldn’t make that play. His playmaking instincts in the pick-and-roll are elite and easily the best in the draft.

As a scorer, it’s possible he’s even more dangerous. He’s developed a lethal toolbox in the pick-and-roll which he can pull out at any time with everything from pull-up three’s to creative floaters to Chris Paul-esque mid-range jumpers. And most impressively he’s done it all with superb efficiency.

So far in his career he’s shown that he has the creativity and skill to be one a superstar-level guard in the NBA. Look how he escapes trouble and drains a contested pull-up three when he has the slightest opening:

He’s quite possibly the most advanced point guard in this draft and if his pick-and-roll game holds up he should be around for awhile.

Weaknesses:

Translation to the NBA

The only problem is, it’s not quite clear yet how he’ll translate. Sure, Okobo shoots 39% from three and has decent free-throw numbers, but the release point on his jumper is uncomfortably low and he might find the length of NBA defenders to be more of a hinderance than those in Europe.

Furthermore, he hasn’t demonstrated quite the quickness and burst necessary to really get past NBA level defenses consistently. Too often he settles for contested mid-range jumpers that have no shot at going in or gets stuck picking up his dribble in no-man’s land after a failed drive to the rim.

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