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New Suns Player Preview: Josh Okogie is a high-energy version of Elfrid Payton

He plays defense. He has energy that is through the roof. And he can’t shoot.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The bench guard play for the Phoenix Suns in the 2021-22 season left a lot to be desired, especially given the position’s lack of effectiveness during their playoff run. The guards for the Suns’ bench shot 36.7% from the field in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Of the 16 teams in the postseason, that ranked 14th. Their 30.2% from beyond the arc ranked 12th.

While Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet appear to have a stranglehold on the backup point guard and shooting guard positions, respectively, James Jones has sought to strengthen the depth beyond them this offseason.

Gone are Elfrid Payton and Aaron Holiday.

The Suns are welcoming two new guards to the fray, one with championship experience in Damion Lee, and another who has spent his entire career in the frozen tundra of Minnesota.

You might not know much about the Nigerian born Okogie, known as “Non Stop” due to his relentless energy. What you quickly learn is that he’s a defense of stallworth who will be able to assist in shutting down the opposition when called upon. If you’re looking for a sweet shooting back up two guard, you’ll have to rely on Landry Shamet to fulfill those expectations. That is not who Josh Okogie is.

What else do you need to know about him? Well…

Josh Okogie

  • Position: Shooting Guard
  • Vitals: 6’4” tall, 213 pounds, 24 years old on September 1
  • Experience: 5th NBA season
  • Stats (2021-21 regular season): 2.7 points per game, 1.4 rebounds per game, 0.5 assists per game, 10.5 minutes played in 49 games (6 starts), 40.4% shooting from the field (49.1% from 2PT, 29.8% from 3PT).

Career Overview

Born in Nigeria, Okogie came to the United States at the young age of three. He attended Georgia Tech and was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team with Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Florida State’s Jonathan Issac. He stayed at Georgia Tech for his sophomore season, leading the team and scoring at 18.2 points per game.

He then entered the 2018 NBA Draft. He was taken 20th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves and, seeing as there was a void at the shooting guard position following Jimmy Butler‘s departure from the Timberwolves, played 23.7 minutes per game in his rookie season. He started 52 of the 74 games in which he appeared, averaging 7.7 points per game as well as 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists.

Okogie has been a regular rotation player with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the past four seasons. Despite playing in 49 games last season, he became an end-of-the-bench option for the Wolves in their 6-game postseason series against the Memphis Grizzlies. He played just 2 minutes in the series.

Biggest Strengths

Okogie made an impact early in his career as a player who has unwavering energy. HIs former teammate Tyus Jones defined it as, “Through the roof.” Jones added, “He never stops, on both ends of the floor. His motor is crazy. That’s something that’s really gonna help this team because that’s contagious.”

Biggest Weaknesses

The shooting by Okogie leaves plenty to be desired. He is a career 27.5% shooter from deep (yikes), and although he has started 123 of the 244 games in which he’s appeared, his career high was a 23-point performance in 2020 against the Atlanta Hawks.

Contract Details

Josh Okogie will earn $1.9M this season and will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season

Josh Okogie is a player who is known to bring the energy at all times, including practice. What he lacks in shooting ability he makes up for with heart, grit, and tenacity on the basketball court. We’ll love him for that. And cringe with every jump shot. Is he Elfrid Payton 2.0?

We’ll find out soon enough.

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