Minnesota Timberwolves: Grading Josh Okogie’s 2019-20 season

Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Josh Okogie of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

What grade does Minnesota Timberwolves wing Josh Okogie deserve for his second season as a professional? Let’s take a look.

Josh Okogie is just one of two Minnesota Timberwolves players who was on the roster when Gersson Rosas took charge 12 months ago.

Okogie was the first-round pick of Rosas’ predecessor, Tom Thibodeau, in the June 2018 draft. He was taken with the No. 20 selection and profiled as a defense-first guard with the ability to grow into a 3-and-D role all while using his impressive athleticism in the open floor.

Now, 136 games into Okogie’s tenure as a pro, at least two-thirds of the above appears to have played out as expected.

As a 20-year-old rookie, Okogie triple-slashed just .386/.279/.728 (field goal, 3-point, and free throw percentages). It was an efficient and somewhat worrying offensive performance, as a shaky handle added to the efficiency concerns.

However, Okogie made up for many of his offensive issues with impressive defense, including the Block Heard ‘Round the World on All-Star, league scoring champ and, at the time, reigning MVP James Harden.

Okogie’s defensive qualities, combined with his incredible athleticism and head-spinning energy (his Twitter handle is @CallMe_NonStop, after all) have largely kept him out of trade discussions.

After all, Okogie shot 38.2 percent on 3-point attempts over two seasons at Georgia Tech, plus 82.1 percent from the free throw line his senior year — all indicators that Okogie has shooting ability that simply needs to develop a bit further.

In his second season as a pro, Okogie improved his field goal percentage to a more-acceptable 42.7 percent and his free throw shooting nearly seven points, to 79.6 percent.

While his 3-point percentage ticked backward — down to 26.6 percent from 27.9 percent as a rookie — the increased frequency of his shot attempts at the rim and his trips to the charity stripe brought up his value on the offensive end of the floor.

Okogie shot 40.5 percent of his field goal attempts within three feet of the basket, making 64 percent. He also increased his free throw rate to .48, meaning that for every shot he attempted from the field, Okogie was taking .48 free throws. Put another way, his free throw attempts per game increased from 2.2 to 3.1.

While Okogie can never be a positive offensive contributor in an NBA offense in the year 2020 while shooting below league-average from beyond the arc, there are still positive signs. If he can make a small leap with his jump shot, Okogie can still be a starting-caliber wing for a good team.

2019-20 Season Grade: B

The second-year leap didn’t happen for Okogie, but while there was a slight down-turn in his jump-shooting efficiency, he made incremental improvement in other areas.

He’s still an above-average one-on-one defender but needs work within the team concept. Then again, Okogie is hardly alone in that regard.

If Okogie can shoot anything resembling league-average from beyond the arc, he’ll be worthy of a starting wing spot on a playoff team. While that would be a sizable jump in 3-point shooting capabilities, the college shooting percentages and improved free throw shooting imply that it isn’t beyond the realm of possibilities.

Next. Grading Jarrett Culver's 2019-20 season. dark

Here’s hoping for some more incremental improvement in 2020-21, as well a mini-jump in 3-point shooting efficiency.