Projecting NBA Draft Prospects: Elie Okobo

Height: 6-3

Weight: 180 lbs.

Wingspan: 6-8

Birthday/Age: 10/23/97 (turns 21 in October)

Projected NBA Role: Scoring Point Guard

Hometown: Bordeaux, France

Team: Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez, France

Strengths: Scoring, Pick-and-Roll, Confidence off the dribble

Weaknesses: Strength, Decision Making, Defensive Effort

Upper Bound: Reggie Jackson, Austin Rivers, Jeremy Lin, Delonte West

Lower Bound: Rodrigue Beaubois, Cameron Payne, Brandon Jennings

Thoughts and Comparisons

If you love Trae Young, you may really like his French impersonator at a cheaper draft slot: Elie Okobo. If you hate Young as a prospect, Okobo can’t be the prospect for you either, unless the value just makes too much sense in the late-first or early second round. The similarities in their games are clear. Okobo is a confident offensive player who is willing to take on the defense as a scorer and a distributor. Relative to Young he leans more towards his scoring because his court vision and passing abilities are not quite up to the Oklahoma PG’s standards. Okobo’s greatest strength right now is his off the dribble shooting, which will force the defense to pay a hefty price when they go under screens. Okobo seeks out scoring opportunities and will be a threat off the ball spotting up or cutting to open spaces. The pick-and-roll will be an effective way for him to force the defense to choose between giving him a long jumper or an easier opportunity for his roll man. I really like his ability to read the defense on penetration and find shooters on the drive-and-kick. The one kink in his offensive game is the variance in his play. He can run hot and cold. When he’s on fire with the jumper he looks unstoppable against international competition. NBA length will contest his shot better, requiring him to be a more willing pass-first guard to let the offensive system create easier shots for his teammates.

Streakiness aside, Okobo has the requisite skills, aggression and desire to become an effective scorer in the NBA. His size and strength will limit his ceiling as a defender though. Elie is not super athletic, strong, or long and hasn’t shown much effort on defense even if his steal rate is decent. His role required a lot of effort on offense and that could explain his defensive coasting. The bigger concern is increased effort from Okobo may not help his struggles keeping up with quick point guards, contesting good shooters, and switches in the post. The lack of vertical explosiveness may affect his ability on both ends of the floor. The floater is almost never an efficient shot unless you are Steph Curry, and Okobo’s touch isn’t great. Finishing below the rim in France at a decent clip will mean regression to a lot of shots getting smothered in the NBA. I would have serious hesitations giving Okobo the keys to an NBA offense for a couple seasons while he acclimates to the league and improves his decision making with the ball. Right now he looks like a low efficiency turnover machine with hot flashes and the tools to develop into a play-making pick-and-roll scoring savant.

Ideal Landing Spots

Ideally Okobo ends up on a rebuilding team with a long leash or a contender that is willing to draft and stash him for a couple seasons. I would be surprised to see him break into the top 20 of this draft. The recent hype is fair and deserved on the offensive end. This could see him getting drafted anywhere between the bottom half of the first round and the top half of the second round.  I would love to see the Suns target him. They have the 16th and 31st picks, which ideally would mean they get lucky and draft him at 31. They can also trade up or down as necessary. The Suns are in the process of a long term rebuild and could use some offensive play-making to eventually pair with Devin Booker. If the Bulls and Pacers like Okobo at 22 and 23 they shouldn’t hesitate taking a shot on him. The Bulls have Kris Dunn, who is the ideal backcourt counterpart to theoretically pair with Okobo’s skills. I really like the idea of Oladipo mentoring Okobo to eventually replace Collison in Indiana. The furthest Okobo will probably drop in the draft is 41, with the Magic needing as many high-ceiling guard prospects as they can find.