Report: Magic to 'Redshirt' Injured Chuma Okeke; PF Will Still Receive Contract

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IISeptember 23, 2019

ORLANDO, FL  - JUNE 21:  Orlando Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and Head Coach Steve Clifford introduce Cuma Okeke as the 2019 NBA Draftee  during a press conference on June 21, 2019 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Orlando Magic will use a "redshirt" season on first-round pick Chuma Okeke, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium on Monday.

The Magic took Okeke with the 16th overall pick, despite the then-20-year-old tearing his ACL during Auburn's NCAA tournament run in the Sweet 16. The deal will give Okeke a chance to use Magic facilities while recovering before signing his contract next season with a higher base.

Prior to his injury, Okeke was averaging 12.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per game across 38 starts. His sophomore season was a marked improvement over his freshman campaign.

According to SB Nation's Orlando Pinstriped Post, Okeke was behind only top overall pick Zion Williamson in steals, steal percentage, offensive rebound percentage and box plus-minus among frontcourt players drafted in the first 16 selections.

While Okeke is still rehabilitating his knee, The Ringer's Chris Vernon labeled the 6'8", 230-pound forward as one of six players from the 2019 draft who will not fail in the pros.

"Okeke is perfect for the NBA today," Vernon wrote. "Very skilled. Fantastic defender. Good athlete. He is the total package."

Once fully healthy, presumably in 2020-21, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman compared Okeke to Robert Covington and projected him to develop into at least a "three-and-D starting role player":

"As long as Okeke's recovery goes smoothly, he should eventually fill a three-and-D role at the worst. His jump shot and defensive versatility are easy to buy and theoretically create a high floor. His ceiling could mean Okeke develops into Robert Covington 2.0—an elite role player who doesn't have to create to hold significant value."

Until then, the Magic have Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Al-Farouq Aminu, Wes Iwundu, Amile Jefferson, DaQuan Jeffries and Vic Law at forward, along with Mo Bamba, Khem Birch and newly signed All-Star Nikola Vucevic at center.