Minnesota Timberwolves: Josh Okogie needs to get his groove back

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 13: Josh Okogie #20 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 13: Josh Okogie #20 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Josh Okogie has been an anomaly for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season, offering outstanding defensive effort and inconsistent offense.

Josh Okogie appears to be one of the best players to be picked up with the 20th selection in the NBA Draft in recent years.

Players such as Evan Fournier and and Tony Snell were taken in the same position in the draft in the past and have grown into good contributors for their team, but neither had an immediate impact on the level of Okogie’s.

To date, Okogie has started 40 of his 62 appearances and is averaging roughly a steal, a block, three rebounds and seven points per game. These numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, and that’s due to Okogie’s biggest problem: consistency.

Through the last nine games of February, Okogie managed to score 10 points or more on six occasions, yet throughout March he didn’t manage a game with more than six points until Sunday night’s outburst in Houston.

His effort has persisted, however, and a March 10 performance with three steals and three blocks was a particular standout despite just two points. But the Wolves really need more from Okogie at a time the team is suffering injuries.

We know Okogie is capable of scoring the ball, yet his defensive effort is clearly where he is more capable. Okogie has only managed to score in double digits 20 times thus far this season, a number he’d want to significantly raise as a shooting guard if he plans to keep his starting gig into the future.

Let’s not forget, however, just how important Okogie’s defense is. Perhaps his most impressive defensive game came guarding one of the league’s most unguardable players in James Harden.

Although it does seem as though Okogie has been a bit unsure of himself on the defensive end of the court of late. It’s not so much a lack of effort, or even a lack of productivity per se, Okogie just looks a little off.

Maybe it’s the injuries to the team or the fatigue of a long season finally getting to Okogie, but the Timberwolves need him back on his A-game as soon as possible, especially if he’s going to be continuing his starting role. Okogie has found himself in a situation most rookie players would dream of: starting regularly for an NBA team, and exceeding expectations placed on him before the season even began.

We always knew Okogie was going to be a workhorse, but little did we know he would almost perfectly fill the personality gap left behind by Jimmy Butler‘s departure. Both Okogie and Butler are loud, aggressive, and high-effort players that can change a game on both ends of the court. Okogie is yet to catch up to Butler’s scoring abilities, yet his defensive effort is surely on the way there.

Okogie is an impressive player both in talent and effort, however the last few games — save for Sunday in Houston — have seen that wasted on sub-par performances. But Okogie is still young and a fan favorite, and his season is far from over.

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The Timberwolves really need Okogie to get his groove back to get into a winning mindset. Here’s hoping he can manage that over the last month of the season.