The Phoenix Suns selected Elie Okobo in the 2018 NBA draft with the No. 31 overall pick.
Okobo started the year as just a prospect to monitor before he really become a guard worth taking seriously for NBA teams. Playing in Pro A, France's top league, he showed notable improvement and gradual progress throughout the season, generating the most buzz with a 44-point effort during the playoffs. Older than the other international prospects who've received first-round attention, Okobo turns 21 in October, making him the equivalent of college player who just finished his sophomore year.
Weight: 180 pounds
Pro-player comparison: D'Angelo Russell
With solid size and length for a point guard, Okobo averaged 13.8 points on an impressive 48.9 percent shooting. Shot-making has become his most effective skill. He knocked down 41.8 percent of his threes, looking most dangerous burying jumpers off pull-ups or step-backs, particularly as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. He's not explosive, but he changes speeds and plays with balance. Capable of making all the basic passes that should be in a point guard's bag, Okobo has potential as a facilitator (4.7 assists), though he turns the ball over too much and isn't a breakdown playmaker.
Okobo can be lazy with his shot selection and decision-making. He doesn't put as much pressure on defenses with his penetration, only getting to the free-throw line 2.7 times per game. He also seems unlikely to ever be a volume assist guard or true setup man. Will he be able to maintain his efficiency in the NBA? Without great speed or explosion, can he separate as easily one-on-one? Despite his accuracy, Okobo does not elevate high off the ground on his jump shots.
Okobo is up and down as a defender. The bright spots highlight his lateral quickness and length, which help on switches. The lowlights show him flatfooted, almost looking to conserve energy for offense. The occasional lack of effort can always be corrected, however. And Okobo does have the ability to stay attached through screens, make plays on the ball and hold his own when forced onto a bigger wing or forward.
Okobo could see minutes as a rookie off the bench, valued for his streak scoring and ability to make things happen in the pick-and-roll game. He's confident and unafraid, which should lead to both exciting flashes and mistakes. Don't count on Okobo making either of the All-Rookie teams, but he'll have his moments in 2018-19 that point to longer-term promise.
Projected role: Bench spark
Okobo can put up points in a hurry, and that's what his calling card will be. Running a team full-time from the point sounds too much to ask or expect. Given his shot selection and lack of burst, it would be surprising if he was able to shoot as accurately as he did in France. However, his shot-making is the real deal, and he's threatening enough as a facilitating playmaker. Odds are, he'll settle in as a team's second-unit spark.
Stats courtesy of RealGM.com.