Which of These Two Prospects Would You Rather The Warriors Draft?
We’ll present scouting reports, and you can vote at the end of this post. For details on how these prospects were selected and seeded, see the master tournament post.
7. Isaac Okoro
Wizzy’s Comps: (per 40 similarity > 70) DeMar DeRozan, Talen Horton-Tucker, Lance Stephenson, Maurice Taylor, OG Anunoby, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Glenn Robinson, Josh McRoberts, Jerami Grant
Wizzy’s Comps: (advanced similarity > 70) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Patrick Williams, Quincy Miller, Justise Winslow, Trey Lyles, OG Anunoby, Kezie Okpala
(Graphic from Sports-Reference.com)
Okoro was only a borderline top-40 prospect coming out of high school but quickly emerged as one of college basketball's best freshmen. He averaged 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds for an Auburn team that started 15-0 and finished 24-4 when Okoro was healthy and available to play.
He has looked like the top perimeter defender in college basketball while also showcasing a mature, developing floor game. On one hand, this feels a little high given his struggles shooting threes and free throws, two negative indicators for his long-term projection.
But Okoro’s terrific build, top-flight defensive instincts and penchant for being in the right place at the right time make it a tempting proposition to draft him early and invest time and resources to help him improve his shot. There aren’t a ton of great wing players in this draft, period, and Okoro is pretty clearly the most appealing one.
If he can work himself into being just an average shooter, he should become a valuable, starting-caliber wing, with potential to be more in a best-case scenario.
Okoro is a tremendous shot blocker for his size, but you want to see more handsiness and anticipation from him. He doesn’t get many steals or deflections and has a weirdly bad rebound rate for such strength and athleticism.
The offense is more of a question mark. Okoro is a poster dunk threat when he gets a head of steam, but the halfcourt is an issue.
SHADES OF: Gerald Wallace, Justise Winslow
Great finisher who delivers through contact, draws fouls, and displays a pillowy touch with either hand.
Smart decision-maker who moves the ball, can run some pick-and-roll, and doesn’t force bad shots.
Displays a good handle with either hand on crossovers, spins, and hesitations. He could have untapped, long-term upside as a shot creator.
Stiff shooter with clunky mechanics. Nonfactor off the dribble. Subpar free throw shooter, which doesn’t provide much optimism for the development of his jumper.
Lacks burst and quickness on drives to the rim, so his flashes of shot-creating ability may never translate to the NBA.
PRO COMPARISON: Blake Griffin
But he’s also proven to be particularly adept off the dribble, where he’s a nightmare to stop once he gets a step. He can finish above the rim, but perhaps his most underrated skill is his ability to read defenses and pass the ball. He definitely is a capable and willing playmaker.
The one question mark is the shooting, but in conversations I’ve had with people that know Isaac, both at the collegiate and high school levels, the consensus is that he’s a worker. He’ll put in the hours that he needs to in order to make himself a threat from three.
Ethan Strauss and Evan Zamir, The Athletic:
Ethan: Isaac Okoro did not begin his freshman season at Auburn touted as a presumed lottery pick, but now I’m seeing him top five in some prominent mocks. I viewed his meteoric rise with a skeptical eye, mostly because it seemed more connected to the unmet demand for wings than any sudden surge of great play. I’m softening on that, though.
Evan: I’m not quite as high on him as others appear to be, primarily because I just can’t ignore the shooting concerns…. You put all that together and it’s not clear to me if he’s a shooting guard that doesn’t shoot or an undersized power forward that doesn’t shoot. So even buying all the other goodness that people see in him as a top-five pick (playmaking, “positionless” defense, youth, frame, etc.)
Wizzy’s Comps: (per 40 similarity > 70) Zhaire Smith, DerMarr Johnson, Robert Woodard, Jason Richardson; (>66) Pat Connaughton, Kevin Porter Jr, Justin Anderson, Kevin Huerter, Xavier Henry
Wizzy’s Comps: (advanced similarity > 70) None. (>55) Zhaire Smith, Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Ross, Pat Connaughton, Reggie Bullock, Tyler Herro, Justin Anderson, Robert Woodard, Carrick Felix
(Graphic from Sports-Reference.com)
Vassell's numbers — 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game — don't jump off the screen, but that has more to do with playing at Florida State than anything else. The Seminoles had four players who averaged between 9.2 points and 12.7 points. So Leonard Hamilton's team was balanced at the top, possibly to the detriment of Vassell.
On the heels of his full-blown emergence as Florida State’s best player... He fits the much-discussed three-and-D archetype as well as anyone can, and that comes with an extremely attractive floor attached.
Vassell is a wiry wing who can jump, and in his case, the 3-and-D isn’t some far-off theoretical construct. He shot 41.7 percent from 3 at Florida State and is equally potent off the catch or the dribble, with a high release and great elevation when he shoots off the bounce. Meanwhile, he was a consistent lock-down defender with long arms, good feet and quick reactions.
The star potential here isn’t nearly as high as some of the players above, but he comes in with a really high floor at a position and role where teams fling $10M a year deals at even mediocre alternatives. He could be a plug-and-play starter for a decade.
SHADES OF: Khris Middleton, Robert Covington, Matisse Thybulle
Elite team defender who will immediately help any NBA rotation. Never stops hustling. Even when a play seems over, he’ll fly out of nowhere for a chase-down block or last-second deflection.
Good spot-up shooter with a high release. Tightened his handle to become a potent shooter off the bounce. Displays high-level passing vision for a wing, though he’s not a primary ball handler.
Lacks burst to beat defenders off the dribble, struggles to finish against contact. Wiry frame may limit his versatility against larger, stronger opponents.
He's an NBA-ready 3-and-D type wing who shot above 41% from 3-point range in each of his two college seasons, and he should be ready to step in and contribute defensively from Day One.
Playing for Leonard Hamilton, you can be sure he got plenty of reps switching defensively and guarding bigger and smaller players. He’s not much of a playmaker on the offensive end, and at 180 pounds, he definitely needs to add some weight to his frame.
He might be the best candidate in this draft class to help fill the defensive void the Warriors have felt since the loss of Andre Iguodala.
Per a league source, the Warriors like Vassell’s “3-and-D” potential enough that they’d consider taking him at the bottom of the top five — about a half-dozen spots above where he sits on most mock drafts. He also could be an option if Golden State decides to trade down to the mid-lottery.
Vote on Twitter or post a comment clearly supporting one or the other. Comment votes count ten times more than Twitter votes.