Fast-rising top-10 pick Onyeka Okongwu reportedly suffers broken toe
The last thing a likely top-10 NBA Draft pick wants to be leaked on the day of the draft is an injury. Especially a big man with a foot injury, those can scare teams.
Onyeka Okongwu, out of USC, had just that, with rumors of a foot injury starting to swirl on Tuesday night. It turns out he has a fractured left big toe, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.
The injury, which will require one to three additional weeks of rest, is not expected to affect his availability for the start of the season…
Sources from multiple NBA teams told ESPN that their doctors have been aware of the injury for some time, have reviewed the medical documentation and do not expect Okongwu’s draft stock to be materially altered or for the injury to have long-term implications.
A broken toe heals. This isn’t a Jones Fracture or the kind of foot issue that requires surgery, which has had players such as Joel Embiid and Zhaire Smith sidelined for years at the start of their careers.
The injury did limit his ability to workout for teams and will impact his conditioning upon return, but it is not something that will be chronic.
Some scouts believe Okongwu could be the best big man in this draft, rating him ahead of James Wiseman. Okongwu is 6’9″ with a strong build, and his draft case is built around his defense — he can block shots at the rim, defend in space, and handle NBA pick-and-rolls. His defense gets compared to Bam Adebayo in style, but Okongwu is nowhere near Bam on offense. The 19-year-old has potential on that end of the floor, he’s a good ball handler and has soft hands, but both his shot and decision making need a lot of work.
He’s going to go high in Wednesday night’s draft, and if the team that selects him can develop him they will have a quality big man on the roster for years.