October 3, 2022

Shooting, athletics and defense. Three things that translate well to the NBA that scouts often like to see in a potential draft pick. Luckily for University of Kansas senior wing Ochai Agbaji, those are perhaps his three greatest strengths. Slated to go midway through the first round, Agbaji has the shooting, build, athleticism and defense to make him an intriguing prospect and fit into almost any type of roster.

In his senior year at Kansas, Agbaji averaged 18.8PPG, 5.1RPG, and 1.6APG on an impressive 47.5%/40.9%/74.3% shooting spread as he assumed and embraced his new role as “go-to-guy”. Agbaji did the majority of his damage from beyond the arc finishing 15th in the nation in FGM 3-pointers with 103 in 39 games. He exhibited very good footwork before the catch, has a fairly high release and can knock down shots on the move on highly contested attempts. This will be Agbaji’s calling card in the NBA, a big reason why he should find playing time no matter what team and whatever situation he finds himself in. The former Jayhawk isn’t just a shooter, though.

Although he is by no means a constant isolation threat or the most creative ball handler, he has improved as a playmaker and shot-maker last season. He still relies on his teammates and the offense as a whole to bring him down sometimes, but he was able to score the dribble and transition more than he had in his previous years at Kansas. Agbaji shouldn’t be asked to overdo it as a ball handler at the start of his career; he should be able to take advantage of bad defenders and lags well enough to create a shot for himself or involve others. It should be noted that unlike some of the prospects who have played in star teams, Agbaji has often had to deal with the opposing team’s best defenders, so he is used to dealing with that. Overall, his offense will still be centered around his ability to knock down outside shots both on the move and on the spot, but if you want to be optimistic, there’s some hope that he can at least become a respectable shot-maker and goalscorer. off the dribble.

Defensively, the 6-foot-6, 215-pound winger should have no problem managing and getting used to the NBA physique. He has most of the tools needed to be an elite lock down defender at the next level. That being said, one concern is that he has never shown an ability to consistently force turnovers or make defensive plays, as evidenced by his lack of steals and blocks. And while his ball defense was very good for the most part, his right defensive stance caused him to be beaten on single screens at times and he was beaten on backdoor screens more often than coaches and coaches. scouts would like it.

People have also questioned its engine at times, as it only averaged 4.3 RPGs at 35.1 MPG, which is a bit weak for its size and athleticism. Agbaji also disappeared sometimes in big games and sporadically throughout the season. And ultimately, it’s not something you want to hear from anyone, but it could be particularly alarming for a prospect like Agbaji. One who already struggles to get his own shot and sometimes relies on teammates to make him look. That’s a bit of a conundrum, because he had a very high drive in games where he was focused, driven, and engaged, which, to be fair, was still most games.

Overall, Agbaji should still fit right in with the team drafting him, but the better the team, the better the look. Despite concerns over his ball handling and commitment, Agbaji is one of the best 3-point shooters in the draft and his NBA-ready body and physique should allow him to start any rotation on day one. You won’t want to ask him to be the centerpiece of your franchise, especially offensively, but if you already have planners and playmakers, he could be a really good role player with a really long career. For those who like player comps, I think he’s a guy who plans to fit into the mold of former Knick Trevor Ariza, or someone along those lines.

Honestly, I could see the Knicks taking him but not at 11. If the Knicks backed down, then there’s a possibility there. The Knicks have liked to take guys who can defend (Quentin Grimes, Deuce McBride, Jericho Sims), which isn’t surprising given how they’re coached by Tom Thibodeau and teams are always looking to add some shooting. That being said, it’s not a choice I would want or choose for myself. The Knicks have needs in other positions as they currently have multiple wings (RJ Barrett, Fournier, Grimes, Reddish) and I would like them to go after someone with more upside and a higher tier .