Chicago Bulls: Writer says Onyeka Okongwu is a good draft target

A not too often mentioned potential 2020 NBA Draft target of the Chicago Bulls could be former USC big man Onyeka Okongwu.

The Chicago Bulls have an interesting situation looming for their fourth overall pick after getting rather fortunate in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery. The Bulls jumped up three spots in the draft lottery odds to get the fourth overall pick this year.

A potential draft target of the Bulls could be the former USC Trojans true freshman big man Onyeka Okongwu. This sizable 6-foot-10 and 245 pound Chino Hills, CA, native was a stud for the Trojans during the 2019-20 college hoops season. He was an All-PAC-12 First Team selection, and he got on the All-PAC-12 Freshman Team.

Okongwu played in 28 games (all of which he started in) during the 2019-20 season. He averaged 16.2 points per game, 8.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.7 blocks. Okongwu shot 61.6 percent from the field, 25.0 percent from beyond the arc, and 72.0 percent from the free-throw line.

In his “Ask Sam Mailbag” on Sep. 11, Smith mentioned that he thinks Okongwu is at least a quality draft target for the Bulls. He also discussed the idea of the combination in the rotation of former Duke Blue Devils center Wendell Carter Jr., and the former Trojan Okongwu. He apparently thinks this combination could actually work well for the Bulls.

Here’s more on what Smith had to say on this subject.

That Okongwu/Carter tandem is an interesting concept. It doesn’t have to be all about starting, like with the Clippers with multiple Sixth Man candidates. I’ve mentioned the Bulls lacking the toughness quotient. It’s actually something John Paxson probably was most frustrated about, but that’s also the problem with the draft, with that best player (talent) available mantra versus the fit for your team. And being able to figure it out at 19. How do you grade toughness when most of their games have been AAU? Though toughness comes as much from experience, learning to fight through screens, finish at the rim, play through contact. It’s difficult to know until you’ve already given them a four-year contract.

The idea here that Smith was asked about was how good and/or bad the combination of WCJ and Okongwu would hypothetically be in this rotation. But he seems to think if one of those two is put in a sixth man role, then they could have a depth situation building to what the Los Angeles Clippers have in the current season.

WCJ is by no means a draft bust for the Bulls, but he could be in a weird spot depending on where this new front office regime wants to take the rebuild heading into its fourth year. At least at the outset of the 2019-20 season, WCJ was looking very good and developing his game to become a more versatile offensive big man. But he did take some steps back before the end of the season.

Another reason why adding a player like Okongwu in the 2020 draft might work out well for the Bulls is the fact that they could bring in more depth to the frontcourt rotation. The starters in the Bulls frontcourt rotation in the last two seasons, namely power forward Lauri Markkanen and WCJ, did anything but stay healthy consistently.

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The Bulls finished up the 2019-20 season with a record of 22-43, good for 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings. And it looks like the 2020 NBA Draft is now set to begin around mid-November, after the conclusion of the playoffs.