Timberwolves take Georgia Tech G Josh Okogie
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Georgia Tech guard Josh Okogie with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the NBA draft on Thursday night, targeting a tough-minded player with defensive versatility as a primary asset.
Okogie played two seasons for the Yellow Jackets, averaging 16.9 points per game and shooting 43.7 percent from the field for his college career. His percentage dropped from 45.3 to 41.6 from freshman to sophomore year. The 6-foot-4, 213-pound Okogie led the Atlantic Coast Conference with an average of 6.8 free throw attempts per game last season, bringing consistent doses of energy and physicality.
Born in Nigeria, Okogie grew up outside of Atlanta. He was third in the ACC in 2017-18 with an average of 1.8 steals per game and also grabbed an average of 6.3 rebounds per game. Okogie’s wingspan was measured at the draft combine this spring at 7 feet, one of only four guards who participated in the skills testing sessions in Chicago to reach that high.
With a vertical leap of 42 inches that tied Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo for the highest at the combine, Okogie is capable of guarding multiple positions, an ability treasured by Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau. Toughness is another trait that assuredly attracted Okogie to Thibodeau, who was conducting his third draft since being hired in Minnesota.
Depth at the wing positions was also a glaring need for the Wolves this offseason, with no backups set yet for Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins. Jamal Crawford and Derrick Rose are set to become free agents.
Perimeter shooting, of course, must be another priority in Minnesota after the team ranked last in the league in 2017-18 with an average of 8.0 made 3-pointers per game. The Wolves were 19th in the NBA with a 3-point shooting percentage of 35.7.
They had the chance to choose one of the sharpest outside shooters in this draft class, Duke’s Grayson Allen, but he went one pick later to the Utah Jazz. The Wolves also had the 48th overall selection in the second round.
Last year, the Timberwolves used draft night to reshape their roster with a headliner trade for the All-Star Butler that dealt Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and seventh overall pick Lauri Markkanen to Chicago. The Bulls then sent the 16th overall selection, Justin Patton, to the Wolves. Patton sat out his entire rookie season with a broken foot. Markkanen made the NBA All-Rookie team after averaging 15.2 points per game.