The Toronto Raptors should look to trade up in the draft to select Isaac Okoro

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 29: Isaac Okoro #23 of the Auburn Tigers is seen during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on February 29, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 29: Isaac Okoro #23 of the Auburn Tigers is seen during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on February 29, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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FAYETTEVILLE, AR – FEBRUARY 4: Jimmy Whitt Jr. #33 of the Arkansas Razorbacks goes up for a shot that is blocked by Isaac Okoro #23 of the Auburn Tigers at Bud Walton Arena on February 4, 2020 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 79-76. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Toronto Raptors NBA Draft: Who is Isaac Okoro?

Okoro committed to Auburn after considering offers from Florida, Florida State, Oregon, and Texas. He had a strong freshman season, averaging 12.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.9 blocks, and 0.9 steals per game.

For his efforts, Okoro was named to the All-SEC Second Team, the SEC All-Freshman Team, and the SEC All-Defensive Team. At just 19 years old, Okoro is viewed as one of the top wing prospects in this year’s draft.

Okoro has the prototypical size for a modern NBA wing player. He stands 6-foot-6, along with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. Okoro has a strong, chiseled 225-pound pro body. He projects as a power wing, capable of guarding multiple positions at the next level.

There are a number of things to like about Okoro’s game, but at the top of the list is his ability as an on-ball defender. Okoro is also a strong team defender, who will make the proper adjustments and rotations as needed. Okoro’s tools, physicality, and competitiveness provide a baseline to develop into an All-NBA level defender.

Most young, defensive-minded forwards are often compared to Kawhi Leonard. However, Leonard has become a top-five player in the NBA. It is almost unfair at this point in time to use him as a measuring stick.

One step below Leonard would be players like Jaylen Brown and Jimmy Butler, who Okoro has also drawn comparisons to. They have similar measurements. Butler is 6-foot-6 (without shoes), with a 6-foot-7.5 wingspan. Brown, on the other hand, is 6-foot-5.25 (without shoes), with a much longer 6-foot-11.75 wingspan.

Much like Brown and Butler, Okoro has made a name for himself primarily on the defensive side of the ball. Okoro has the size and athleticism in order to shut down opposing wings. He should have a role from day one as a defensive stopper while Okoro’s offensive game develops.

Okoro’s defensive ability allows him to create deflections and get out in transition. He is a vertical lob threat, capable of creating highlight real dunks. Okoro is also an aggressive slasher who is a threat to score in the half-court.

The biggest question mark is whether Okoro can become a consistent outside shooter. He shot only 29 percent from three-point range this past season. Okoro was also less than impressive at the free-throw line, where he shot 67.2 percent.

The worry is that Okoro may be the next Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kidd-Gilchrist was another highly regarded SEC prospect. He was eventually selected no. 2 overall by the Charlotte Bobcats. There were similar questions about whether Kidd-Gilchrist could be a consistent outside shooter. Unfortunately for him and the City of Charlotte, Kidd-Gilchrist never lived up to expectations.

The difference between Okoro and Kidd-Gilchrist is their shooting form. Kidd-Gilchrist has one of the most awkward looking shots in the entire NBA, whereas, Okoro has good form and a high release point. A little more practice and some time with an NBA shooting coach could work wonders for Okoro’s development.

After all, Jaylen Brown was a below-average shooter during his one season at California. Brown shot 29.4 percent from three-point range and 65.4 percent from the free-throw line. But Brown, like Okoro, is a tireless worker who has put the time in. This past season Brown shot 38.2 percent from 3, on 5.9 attempts per game. There is no reason to think that Okoro can’t follow a similar trajectory.