Rob Pelinka and Jesse Buss took a trip to Europe in April to scout prospects for the 2018 NBA draft. One of the players that they were rumored to get eyes on was French point guard Elie Okobo, a slick lefty who was playing for Pau-Lacq-Orthez in the European LNB Pro A League.
Okobo has advanced shot creation capabilities for a player his age, doing a great deal of his work as a jump shooter off of the dribble. His jumper is pure, and his free throw percentage (81.9%) bodes well for the transition to the NBA 3-point line. He flashed impressive court vision alongside his pull-up abilities, which is a strong foundation of skills to build off of for a lead guard in the NBA.
Let’s take a closer look at his game.
He wouldn’t be a possibility with the 25th pick without some holes in his game. He’s more of a crafty finisher than an athletic one and can have some difficulty finishing at the rim as a result. That can be one of the more difficult areas of transition when compared with the European leagues, which don’t have many bouncy 7-footers patrolling the paint.
He frequently jumps to pass and can get caught in the air with nowhere to go. He can also struggle to handle ball pressure, and his 1.79 assist-to-turnover ratio is mediocre relative to his NBA counterparts.
Defensively, he has some tools to work with, but doesn’t always apply them. His motor is questionable at best, and his defensive stance both on and off of the ball is sloppy. He will likely be glued to a bench until he can apply his physical ability more consistently, but he isn’t incapable of that.
Despite these flaws, Okobo is one of my favorite prospects that could be available at #25. Off-the-dribble shooting is one of the rarest areas of production in the NBA, and if a player can do that, many of the other skills they need as a scorer can fall in to place. The turnover issues strike me as basketball immaturity more than anything else, so how well he’s able to implement his physical tools on the defensive end will determine his ceiling.