Josh Okogie’s arrival brings another ball hawk to Phoenix Suns’ roster

PHOENIX — Entering Year 4 of the Monty Williams and James Jones generation, the Phoenix Suns have by no means had a participant slightly like wing Josh Okogie.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 213 kilos, you’ll be able to sense how Okogie can come throughout as bodily enforcing. Okogie mentioned Saturday that once Williams noticed his thigh muscle mass, he in comparison it to the athletic phenomenon Bo Jackson.

On most sensible of his power with a 7-foot wingspan, Okogie sprinted at 20 miles an hour all the way through the Suns’ summer season trying out. That pace brought on Williams to deliver up Jackson when discussing Okogie.

The just lately grew to become 24-year-old Okogie has constructed up a deserved popularity at the defensive finish, the place he places the ones presents to use. Given the positions he can duvet together with his dimension, power and period, Okogie is in contrast to somebody Phoenix has had who may just slot into the guard rotation.

“I think he can be a guy that comes off of our bench and just goes in and shuts somebody down,” Williams mentioned of Okogie on Sept. 28. “He’s a guy that hasn’t found his niche in the league just yet where it’s consistent but that doesn’t mean he can’t. We hope over the course of time he makes it hard on me to keep him off the floor. From that standpoint, that was the excitement.”

After 4 years with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the staff that drafted Okogie twentieth general within the 2018 NBA Draft, Okogie signed with the Suns in unfastened company and altered organizations for the primary time in his profession.

Okogie were given extra enjoying time within the entrance part of his time there as antagonistic to the again part, coping with the demanding situations of a tender participant on a franchise that had 3 other head coaches and normal managers throughout his time up north.

He began 117 video games in his first 3 seasons ahead of suffering to cling a constant position ultimate 12 months, averaging 10.5 mins in keeping with sport throughout 49 appearances.

Okogie used to be complimentary of his keep in Minnesota but additionally defined how consistent alternate can turn out to be tricky.

“You haven’t really established yourself, so you’re always changing your game, changing how you think and it’s hard to play free because each coach is kind of demanding something different,” he mentioned Saturday. “Then you’re trying to fit into different roles, different philosophies.”

In the certain division, Okogie has observed near to the entirety via 4 years as a result of the ups and downs for the Timberwolves.

“I know what it feels like through a whole spectrum,” he mentioned. “I know what it feels like to lose 14 games in a row, to have a winning record, to go to the playoffs, to lose in the first round.”

This is why balance is so necessary to a company. The Suns may give it to their very own gamers and in addition use it for more youthful guys who haven’t skilled one thing like that but, with the hope being they are able to maximize a participant’s skill in some way the former staff may just now not.

There’s so much to like about Okogie’s sport. It, after all, begins on protection, the place his imprint on a sport is apparent.

“I saw him physically put his hands on people and defend and finish. He just infects the game with his physicality,” Williams mentioned. “That, to me, is something that you need regular season, playoffs, postseason — you need it all the time and he’s that kind of player.”

Okogie’s task stage stays prime. He’s nice about the usage of his palms at opportune moments, when he can catch ball handlers off guard as a result of how temporarily he covers flooring and the way lengthy his fingers are.

As Suns enthusiasts have realized whilst looking at Mikal Bridges, lazy passes and such are an absolute no-go in his neighborhood.

Okogie has at all times had an elite scouse borrow share amongst wings as a result of that bundle.

Okogie mentioned on media day that once he and Bridges have been in a position to staff up all the way through some scrimmages ahead of coaching camp, it used to be a easy “yep” and a nod between the 2 ahead of they brought about all types of commotion defensively.

Bridges mentioned he hasn’t had a teammate protecting with him who had this kind of identical idea procedure and instinctual pursuit of the ball.

“Josh is a freak and he just has that defensive mind where he just reads things and has those ball-hawk skills,” Bridges mentioned two weeks in the past. “It’s fun playing with somebody just like that.”

Williams referred to as Okogie being “a bit of renegade” as a defender who reasons havoc.

“Josh has that ability like Mikal and Torrey (Craig) where he can go for a steal but keep himself in the play,” Williams mentioned Saturday.

Okogie does that with blocks, too. He’s some of the perfect chase-down artists within the league and can ceaselessly recuperate from a step at the back of to erase a shot strive.

Like steals, the manufacturing together with his block share is prime for his place. There’s worth in Okogie’s protection self-generating turnovers.

Okogie mentioned he likes to recall to mind himself as “a cleanup guy,” that means he can cling down his personal task whilst taking alternatives to sweep up the rest out of doors of that.

The ultimate clip I’ll proportion is person who backs up the comparability to Jackson and his legendary nature, as a result of how time and again have you ever observed any person block Kevin Durant’s leap shot who’s six inches shorter than him?

From a rotation point of view, one inkling Williams cited used to be probably enjoying Okogie along Landry Shamet when Shamet runs the offense. That’s one thing Shamet shall be doing in this day and age whilst Cam Payne heals up from a proper finger sprain, and it’s a lineup that provides the Suns actual dimension at guard with two plus defenders.

“It could be beneficial for sure because Josh, man, he’s an elite defender, I think,” Shamet mentioned Friday. “Plays hard, he’s a physical specimen. I’m excited for him to get on the floor with us and show us what he’s capable of and what we know he’s capable of doing so it’ll be a great addition.”

Okogie is lately coping with a left hamstring pressure that has stored him out all the way through the preseason and may just for the ultimate two video games on Monday and Wednesday. But Okogie didn’t rule out a imaginable go back.

The process forward for Okogie is at the offensive finish. As Williams mentioned, he simply has to find that area of interest.

Shooting has been an issue.

Of the 220 gamers to strive a minimum of 500 3s since Okogie entered the league within the 2018-19 season, Okogie ranks ultimate in 3-point share, in keeping with Stathead. His 27.5% mark is crowned via Jimmy Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis.

It’s now not a technical factor. Okogie has clean taking pictures mechanics. It’s near to construction consistency, one thing that has confirmed achievable in basketball time after time.

“Just trust it,” Williams mentioned when requested how guys broaden that consistency. “It’s been confirmed that that’s the only factor that you’ll be able to fortify is your shot. There are guys who come into the league and they are able to’t shield. And 10 years later, they nonetheless can’t shield.

“Most guys come into the league, even if they had a shooting deficit, that’s the one thing we know that you can improve. He’s got good mechanics, it’s pretty consistent. Now it’s the ability to carry over the work to the floor without thinking about it. And that’s what the elite guys do. They don’t think about it, they just do what they do. And you’re trying to build consistency, you have to adopt that mentality.”

Okogie identified one thing that enthusiasts hardly ever recall to mind, which is how difficult it’s to handle a glide as a low-usage participant who hardly ever will get the ball for what Okogie as it should be described a “rhythm game.”

“If you shoot three 3s this game and you don’t shoot a 3 the next two games then try to shoot five 3s the next game — it don’t matter how good of a shooter you are,” Okogie mentioned.

Okogie has probably the most lowest utilization charges amongst his place team in 4 seasons and he’s taking near to all of his pictures both on the rim or from 3.

A free-flowing offense that preaches motion each off and on the ball goes to be the most efficient probability but that Okogie has at discovering that rhythm. He cited Phoenix’s 0.5 philosophy of quick-hitting choices and the way no person at the staff cares who has or shoots the ball. He is not going to simply stand within the nook like he did in Minnesota.

“You kind of get lost in that corner sometimes,” Okogie mentioned.

Going again to his days at Georgia Tech that led to his variety within the first spherical, Okogie can cross the ball smartly. His lend a hand and turnover percentages haven’t been sort to him to this point however Okogie is just right about making the good, further passes that may assist stay the Suns’ offense clean.

He additionally will get to the road an entire lot. A free-throw presence secondary to Devin Booker has been lacking at the staff, and whilst that’s an excessive amount of of an ask for Okogie, having any person off the bench that will get a couple of a sport like he did previous in his time with Minnesota shall be a plus.

The final analysis for Okogie is that the outlet is there.

The Suns’ intensity past Chris Paul, Booker, Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson at guard and wing is proscribed. Payne and Shamet to some degree have a cling at the ball-handling obligations, however past that, Okogie may just completely carve out a job and emerge as another defensive stopper to arm the rotation with.

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