NBA Draft: Josh Okogie’s similarities to Timberwolves’ Jimmy Butler

SOUTH BEND, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Josh Okogie #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Josh Okogie #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves used the No. 20 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft to pick up Georgia Tech shooting guard Josh Okogie. As it turns out, he’s a similar prospect to his new superstar teammate.

Back in 2011, Jimmy Butler was selected No. 30 by the Chicago Bulls, the last pick in the first round. He was a 6-foot-7 shooting guard and a solid, albeit underwhelming collegiate player at Marquette with legitimate questions about his offensive skill coming into the NBA.

In 2018, the Timberwolves picked at No. 20 and grabbed Josh Okogie of Georgia Tech. Okogie is a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who who was a solid, yet inefficient offensive player with the Yellow Jackets but projects to be a solid NBA defender from Day One.

And those are just the obvious parallels.

The raw shooting percentages are nearly identical. We’ll get to the key differences here in a moment — there are definitely some, don’t get me wrong — but check this out…

Here’s Jimmy Butler at Marquette from 2008-11.

Now, here’s Josh Okogie at Georgia Tech from 2016-18.

Career college free throw percentage? Butler shot 77.3 percent from the charity stripe on 5.6 attempts per game. Okogie shot 77.7 on 6.6 tries. How about 3-point percentage? Butler shot far fewer than the newest Wolf, but the percentages were, once again, eerily similar: 38.3 percent for Jimmy, 38.2 percent for Okogie.

The 2-point percentage is solidly in Butler’s favor, and that brings us to the main difference between the two that favors Butler as a prospect: the former Golden Eagle not only shot twos at a better rate, but he also was more effective at getting to the free throw line. Even though Okogie shot one more free throw attempt per game, his sky-high usage rate on a bad Georgia Tech team meant that his free throw rate stood at .529 over two seasons, whereas Butler’s was a whopping .776 in three seasons at Marquette.

Butler picked his spots better and had a post game as a collegiate player. Okogie was forced into a high-usage scoring role, which led to higher usage and turnover rates. It would have been nice to see him draw more fouls, but the .529 free throw rate isn’t something to sneeze at, either, and at least he made his freebies when he got to the line.

Here are the rest of the percentage and rate-based numbers. First, Butler.

And now, Okogie.

We’ve already touched on the free throw rate, so I’ll draw your attention to the rebounding, steal, and block rates. Butler’s 11.1 rebounding rate as a shooting guard was awesome, and Okogie’s 10.3 percent is obviously comparable. Also, in their respective final seasons in college, Butler’s was 10.1 and Okogie’s was 10.6.

When it comes to steal rate, which is often a decent indicator of defensive success as a pro, Okogie actually outpaces Butler, 2.6 to 2.4 percent. Block percentage? Advantage again to Okogie, 2.8 to 1.6 percent.

Just in case you’ve somehow forgotten, Jimmy Butler is a three-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team player and an awesome defender. Of course, much of that is work ethic and willingness to learn at the NBA level, but if Okogie has something resembling Jimmy G., then the Wolves should have one special defender on their hands.

The biggest differences that land in Okogie’s favor? Butler’s draft combine wingspan measured in at just 6-foot-7.5 and his max vertical at 39 inches. Despite measuring in at roughly three inches shorter than Butler, Okogie has a 7-foot wingspan and jumped 42 inches at the combine matching Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, who was drafted 17th by Milwaukee, for the draft’s best vertical.

Highlights are, of course, highlights and not true game tape, but check out the below anyways, because it’s fun.

You’ll notice a few Butler-esque blocked shots in there, as well as a similar shot, although the release is a bit slow.

One issue that Okogie may need to address is the number of times he attempted to finish below the rim — a strange quirk for a guy who jumped 42 inches at the combine, but he may need to adjust in the pros as the foul calls likely won’t come as freely.

Overall, Okogie has elements to his game that are shockingly similar to Butler’s. And while it’s not fair to expect the newest Timberwolf to live up to Butler’s multiple-All-Star profile, it’s probably fair to assume that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden are well aware of the mold that their latest first-round draft pick fits neatly into.

Next: Will Jimmy Butler consider joining the Nets next summer?

We’ll have some additional breakdowns on Josh Okogie and his fit with the Timberwolves in the coming days here at Dunking With Wolves.