Minnesota Timberwolves: Where Josh Okogie would be picked in a 2018 re-draft

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 01: Josh Okogie #20 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 01: Josh Okogie #20 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves wing Josh Okogie is only a little more than a season and a half into his NBA career, but let’s take an early look at where he’d be picked in a re-draft.

Former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach and front office boss Tom Thibodeau oversaw three drafts while he was in charge at Mayo Clinic Square.

First, he mistakenly picked hard-nosed but offensively-challenged point guard Kris Dunn over both dynamic combo guard Jamal Murray and sharpshooter Buddy Hield despite having Ricky Rubio already on his roster.

Then, in 2017, Thibodeau struck gold in trading Dunn, along with the No. 7 pick and an injured Zach LaVine to Chicago and getting back All-Star Jimmy Butler and a pick only nine spots lower in the same draft. He used the No. 16 selection on intriguing big man Justin Patton, only to see him struggle with injuries throughout his first two seasons in the league. He’s now with his third organization in three years.

Initially, the Wolves did not have a draft pick in 2018 due to Flip Saunders’ ill-fated swap of a draft pick for Adreian Payne with the Atlanta Hawks years earlier. But back in the summer of 2017, Thibodeau traded Rubio to Utah for a 2018 pick. That selection ended up being No. 20, just one slot after the Wolves’ original pick.

Minnesota took Josh Okogie, a bouncy 19-year-old out of Georgia Tech who had only played two years of college ball for a mediocre program. The scouting profile, as yours truly noted at the time, was eerily similar to Butler in many ways. (Here’s what the real scouts were saying at the time.)

Okogie had an impressive finish to his rookie season and has maintained similar play throughout his second year. He’s been extremely durable, a fantastic defender, and a handful in transition. His shooting and ball-handling, however, have been suspect at best and he doesn’t resemble a playmaker at all.

So, with a current profile of bench energy guy and defensive stopper, where would Okogie fall in a 2018 re-draft?

Let’s take a look at this in terms of tiers, with a rough re-draft position to their left and where they were actually selected to their right. Team need was not taken into consideration.

Tier One: The stars

1. Luka Doncic (actual: No. 4)
2. Trae Young (No. 5)

Tier Two: Starters with upside

3. Deandre Ayton (No. 1)
4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 11)
5. Jaren Jackson (No. 4)
6. Michael Porter (No. 14)
7. Marvin Bagley (No. 2)
8. Wendell Carter (No. 7)

Tier Three: Clear rotation players

9. Mohamed Bamba (No. 6)
10. Donte DiVincenzo (No. 17)
11. Mitchell Robinson (No. 36)
12. Landry Shamet (No. 26)

In some order, there’s your top 12 if a re-draft were held today. Doncic is absolutely the top pick, and Young is probably second, although depending on the team (at the time it was Sacramento, who took Bagley) they may choose Ayton.

The guys in Tier Two all appear to have a legitimate chance at joining Tier One in the next couple of seasons. Injuries have massively affected both Bagley and Porter thus far, but they’ve each been impressive when on the court.

Reaching star status isn’t out of the question for Tier Three, either. They are all players who either are (or could be, in Robinson’s case) rotation players for a legitimate playoff contender.

Here’s the next 10 picks that would go off the board, in no particular order:

Some of these guys, like Brunson, Shamet, and more recently, Milton have outperformed expectations based on their draft position.

Sexton, on the other hand, was the No. 8 pick by Cleveland and had a horrendous rookie season before coming on strong this year, and especially following the departure of former head coach John Beilein. His recent play plus his upside would surely still put him in the top 20 of this draft class, but he would fall outside of the three tiers listed above.

Both Bridges were lottery picks and have shown flashes of tantalizing upside, but have lacked consistency. They’re absolutely rotation players, but the jury is out on if they would be key rotation pieces for contending teams. Of the 10 listed above, only Brunson and Holiday can say that they’re doing just that at the moment, although Milton has at times for Philadelphia.

It’s safe to say that Okogie would not be drafted in the top 11, and it’s hard to slot him ahead of Indiana’s Holiday, Dallas’ Brunson, and Philadelphia’s Milton. The Bridges each appear to still have more upside, and that would take up slots through pick No. 16.

13. Jalen Brunson
14. Aaron Holiday
15. Collin Sexton
16. Mikal Bridges
17. Miles Bridges

At this stage, one would have to slot Okogie in ahead of Brown, who has been impressive for the Detroit Pistons but isn’t clearly a better player than Okogie, so we’ll put him at No. 22. Huerter theoretically has a bit more upside, but hasn’t done anything significantly better than Okogie for the Hawks and isn’t anywhere near the caliber of defender that the Wolves’ wing is.

21. Kevin Huerter
22. Bruce Brown

That leaves Okogie, Graham, and Milton as candidates for the No. 18 through No. 20 spots. For reference, Graham was the No. 34 pick in 2018, while Milton was No. 54 and and Okogie went 20th.

Both Graham and Milton were quiet as rookies but have come on strong in their second season, while Okogie has been much steadier overall while showing more modest improvement overall.

At this stage, Milton’s hot play since joining Philadelphia’s regular rotation and his superior shooting stroke to Okogie puts him at No. 18. However, there is plenty of question surrounding Graham’s defensive ability and his shooting is perhaps a bit streakier than Milton, although it’s admittedly too early to say that for sure.

Since we’re splitting hairs at this point, let’s put Okogie at No. 19 and Graham at No. 20,  just edging out Kevin Huerter and Bruce Brown.

That means that Okogie gets picked a whopping one pick in front of where his actual draft position was back in June of 2018. Clearly, there’s still some upside remaining in an athletic, intelligent, hard-working player who is still just 21 years old, but this draft class has looked much better in their collective second year than during the 2018-19 season.

Next. Analyzing Malik Beasley's contract situation. dark

It’s hard to put a ceiling on what Okogie will ultimately be in the NBA, but as it stands right now, nearly 22 months after his selection, he would likely be picked in a similar spot in his draft class.