Minnesota Timberwolves Draft: Onyeka Okongwu or Devin Vassell?

Devin Vassell of the Florida State Seminoles. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Devin Vassell of the Florida State Seminoles. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Devin Vassell
Devin Vassell of the Florida State Seminoles. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Would Onyeka Okongwu or Devin Vassell be a better fit for the Minnesota Timberwolves?

Continuing on in a series of NBA Draft player comparisons for the Minnesota Timberwolves, we turn our attention to USC’s Onyeka Okongwu and Florida State’s Devin Vassell.

In a draft mostly devoid of high-end potential stars, guys like Okongwu and Vassell have risen up draft boards due to their projectable roles and fit in the modern NBA.

For Timberwolves fans who have grown accustomed to watching high draft picks sputter out to underwhelming NBA careers, grabbing someone with a seemingly high floor could be the most encouraging outcome in 2020, depending on where the pick lands.

For Okongwu and Vassell, there are also avenues by which they could push past that “solid role player” floor and become true difference-makers. Both were known to be high-level defenders in college, but there are plenty of things to like offensively as well.

Minnesota Timberwolves Draft: Onyeka Okongwu or Devin Vassell?

Offensive Impact

Onyeka Okongwu scored 16.2 points per game on 62 percent from the field and 72 percent from the free throw line this year at USC. He’s a great athlete with soft touch around the basket and should excel as a rim roller.

Okongwu is also a solid passer for a big man with a high basketball IQ and good feel for the game.

His biggest weakness as an offensive prospect is that he was not a shooter at USC, which also contributed to his high field goal percentage. He avoided the 3-point line but he also took very few midrange shots.

In the same way, as guys like Al Horford, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka have adapted to the modern game, Okongwu’s ability to become a 3-point shooter might be key to unlocking his offensive efficiency.

If Okongwu displays improved shooting at some point before the October draft, his stock could go way up. His free throw percentage was average this year at 72 percent, but his touch around the basket and in the midrange is encouraging for future growth.

On the other hand, Devin Vassell will likely start out as a spot-up shooter offensively and look to expand his game from there.

Vassell scored 12.7 points per game this year on 49 percent shooting from the field, 42 percent on threes, and 74 percent from the line.

Not a lot about his offensive game stands out, but he ranked in the 80th percentile in spot-up shooting efficiency and the 94th percentile in transition, according to Synergy. He showed signs of a developing one-on-one and pull-up game. He also shot efficiently from every spot on the floor.

Drafting either Okongwu or Vassell would be a defensive-minded move from the front office, though both prospects have the tools and mentality to be effective on offense as well.

In this case, the offensive advantage goes to the better shooter, especially considering how much the Wolves’ offense figures to center around the pick-and-roll leading to kick-outs.

Advantage: Vassell