Analyzing Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels, and Onyeka Okongwu

January 6th, 2020

by Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Washington play against USC in a Pac-12 basketball game that took place yesterday. This matchup featured a trio of first round prospects that could all go in the lottery of the 2020 draft in Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels, and Onyeka Okongwu. This game was close early on, but Washington easily overpowered them on both ends of the floor, and USC really had trouble making shots as the Huskies routed them to get a double-digit victory over the Trojans. Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Washington's freshman big man, Isaiah Stewart had a dominant performance in his team's win over USC.  (Photo: Stephen Brashear/Red Box Pictures, via gohuskies.com.)
Washington’s freshman big man, Isaiah Stewart had a dominant performance in his team’s win over USC. (Photo: Stephen Brashear/Red Box Pictures, via gohuskies.com.)

Washington’s 6-9 freshman big man, Isaiah Stewart had a tremendous showing in his team’s win over USC. Going up against his rival counterpart Onyeka Okongwu, it was anticipated that it would be a relatively tough game for the both of them, but Okongwu turned out to be no match for Stewart, as the Washington big man frequently overpowered him to score in the post, and he also rebounded and defended well in this game.

Stewart did a terrific job of scoring in the post. He possesses great strength, agility, and shooting touch in the paint, and he has a variety of moves that he can use to help him score on the block. He used an overhead ball fake to score on a step-through move, he also scored on an up and under move while getting an extra free throw another time, and he also scored on a nifty, backwards flip shot on a separate play. He also excelled at scoring and drawing fouls off of jump hooks, and he would frequently get deep position that would enable him to easily score down low.

He also managed to draw plenty of free throws on put backs after leaping up to get offensive rebounds. Stewart also flashed the ability to shoot the basketball, as he made a fadeaway, baseline mid-range jumper from the high post once. He struggled make jumpers consistently when he was further away from the paint though, but that didn’t deter him from having a tremendous game against USC.

However, he was fairly turnover prone on offense. On the bright side, Stewart is a good passer from the post, as he can pass out of double teams to find open teammates on offense. Sometimes though, he would commit turnovers in the post, as he fell once, committed a charging foul another time, and he also traveled on a separate play. Another time, he threw a weak pass back from the post that ended up getting intercepted by a defender.

Also, Stewart did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He showed a knack for grabbing tough boards in traffic, and he would haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor.

Plus, he also played solid defense. Stewart did a good job of blocking shots when defending in the post, and he has good strength to hold his ground to force misses. He will actively contest jumpers to force misses. Sometimes though, he may not guard opponents tightly enough in the post, which can lead him to occasionally allow scores.

In general, Isaiah Stewart played very well, as he really excelled as a scorer, rebounder, and defender when he was on the floor, and especially excelled at scoring in the post. Right now, he is a talented player that could be a good value pick for a team in the lottery, and he has the skills to be a solid starter in the NBA.

Washington's freshman forward, Jaden McDaniels had a solid showing, as he showed off his versatility and tremendous shot blocking skills in his team's win over USC.   (Photo: Amanda Snyder/The Seattle Times.)
Washington’s freshman forward, Jaden McDaniels had a solid showing, as he showed off his versatility and tremendous shot blocking skills in his team’s win over USC. (Photo: Amanda Snyder/The Seattle Times.)

Washington’s freshman forward, Jaden McDaniels played fairly well to help lift his team to a win over USC. He did a tremendous job of blocking shots, and though he didn’t shoot the ball very well, he excelled in the non-shooting or scoring related elements of this game.

McDaniels played terrific defense against USC. He showed a knack for flying in to block shots to help his team protect the paint, as he would often swat shots ferociously by rotating to the post to do so, and he also will actively contest jump shots to force misses. He also will get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, as he is a rangy, versatile defender that can cover a lot of ground. He did commit a Flagrant 1 foul though, as he took down Isaiah Mobley in a headlock when going for a defensive board, but he managed to stay in the game despite that.

He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball. He was especially active at crashing the defensive glass, and he also managed to leap up to get an offensive board in traffic.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills. He throws very good interior passes as he can find teammates on the move to set up scores for them, and he can throw sharp passes to quickly get them the basketball. He did commit a couple of careless ball-handling turnovers, but he generally passed and handled the ball well when he was on the floor.

He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble. McDaniels was able to deftly score on a drive in transition once, and he also showed a good ability to draw fouls when he would take the ball to the basket. He also used a crossover move to make a long two. However, he would sometimes struggle to score in traffic, and he also had trouble consistently making jumpers. He did run off the ball to make a quick corner three, but he struggled to knock down threes consistently from beyond the arc.

In summary, McDaniels put forth a solid performance to help lift his team to a double-digit victory over USC. He is a very skilled, versatile player that can contribute in many different ways when he is on the floor. He will still need to be a more consistent performer on offense, and he will need to improve his jump shot, but right now, he is a talented player that may project to go in the lottery, as he could end up being a solid player in the association.

USC's freshman big man, Onyeka Okongwu did not play very well, as he and his team struggled mightily in their loss to Washington.  (Photo: Amanda Snyder/The Seattle Times.)
USC’s freshman big man, Onyeka Okongwu did not play very well, as he and his team struggled mightily in their loss to Washington. (Photo: Amanda Snyder/The Seattle Times.)

USC’s 6-9 freshman big man, Onyeka Okongwu was anticipated to play well after having a dominant performance in his team’s win over Washington State. However, Okongwu did not play very well against Washington, and he had trouble making shots or defending Stewart in this game. The Huskies game-planned for him, as they were prepared that he would almost exclusively look to score in the paint, so they were able to wall that off to force him to take tough shots. As a result, Okongwu was taken out of his comfort zone early on when matched up against Stewart, and he never quite found his groove, even though he ended up having one of the better games amongst players on his team.

Okongwu really tried to overpower his opponents on offense, which didn’t really work, as he had trouble getting deep position or open looks to score around the basket. He did manage to score on a couple of jump hooks, as well as on a couple of put backs, which include one where he drove in off of an offensive rebound to score on an acrobatic layup while getting an additional free throw. However, Okongwu tended to miss too often when he would look to score in the paint, and he also missed on a mid-range shot another time.

He displayed average at best playmaking skills in this game. Okongwu can pass out of the post, as he was able to set up scoring chances for his teammates. He did commit a couple of turnovers, as he had a ball poked away in the post to lose it to an opponent, and he also threw a hasty pass that was picked off another time.

Also, Okongwu did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he especially excelled at crashing the glass to collect offensive boards.

He also struggled defensively. For the positives, Okongwu managed to get his hands on an entry pass to get a steal, and he also would contest mid-range jumpers to force misses. However, he didn’t block any shots, and it could be surmised that he carried his offensive struggles with him to the defensive end, as he didn’t really bother his opponents’ shots that much in this game. Also, he had trouble defending in the post, as he would give up deep position and get beat on moves, or actively look to contest shots, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Onyeka Okongwu didn’t have his best game, and surprisingly, he looked to be overmatched when going up against Isaiah Stewart in his team’s loss to Washington. Okongwu still need to expand upon his skill set on offense, as he doesn’t really have much of a face-up game, but it was especially disappointing that he didn’t defend well in the post or block any shots against Washington. Right now, he is an athletic, energetic big man that could go in the mid first round range. He will need to bounce back from this game, which he probably will, and Okongwu has the skills to develop into being a solid role player in the NBA.

Washington’s 6-0 sophomore point guard, Quade Green quietly played well in his team’s win over USC. He scored the basketball in a variety of ways, even if he didn’t shoot the ball that much, and he also displayed solid playmaking and defensive skills.

Green shot the ball well, as he showed a knack for making corner threes, and he also made a pull-up, mid-range jumper. He also did a good job of scoring off the dribble, as he can get all the way to the basket to score on layups, and he also scored on a turnaround jumper.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills. Green is an unselfish player that can find teammates on the break to set up scores for them, and he is a patient player that will find open shooters. He did commit several turnovers, as he would occasionally throw hasty passes that would get intercepted, and he also threw a hard pass that his teammate dropped out of bounds another time.

Though Green didn’t get many rebounds in this game, he was able to get a couple of defensive boards when he was on the floor. Green also played good defense. He would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, and he also ran in to poke a ball away to get another steal.

Overall, Quade Green is a smart, skilled playmaker that can help his team in a number of ways in games. He can shoot and pass the basketball, and he also played solid defense against USC. Right now, he’s flown under the radar as a draft prospect, but he could be a good find for a team in the second round range on draft day, as he could end up thriving as a backup point guard in the NBA.

Washington’s 6-6 junior swingman, Nahziah Carter also played fairly well in his team’s win over USC. Carter had a solid all-around game, as he made threes, rebounded the ball well, and he blocked many shots to help his team defensively.

Carter shot the ball well, as he helped provide floor spacing for his team. He was able to make spot-up threes off the catch, and he also pulled up to knock down a mid-range jumper off the dribble. He also showed a knack for drawing fouls when taking it to the hoop, but he would sometimes miss on floaters.

He displayed average at best playmaking skills. Carter was able to kick the ball out to a shooter after dribbling carefully along the sideline to set up a score once due to possessing good vision that time. However, he also committed several careless turnovers, as he dribbled off his own foot when trying to be too fancy with his ball handling once, and he also threw an inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds on a separate play.

He also rebounded the ball fairly well. Carter managed to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he also chased down a ball to get his own offensive rebound after missing on a three-point shot due to possessing good athleticism, motor, and instincts to do so.

Also, Carter played good defense. He frequently would fly in to block shots, as he would often do so in the post, and he also flew in to make a chase down block to prevent an opponent from scoring on a mid-range shot another time. He also was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal for his team. However, Carter also tended to commit reach-in fouls due to over-aggressiveness.

Overall, Carter had a solid showing in his team’s win over USC, and he is an athletic swingman that could project to be a 3 and D type of player in the NBA. Right now, he is a second round prospect, and he has the skills to thrive as a role player in the association.

USC’s 6-11 senior center, Nick Rakocevic had a disappointing performance in his team’s double-digit loss to Washington. He has been struggling as of late, and he scored just 4 points on 1-of-12 shooting against the Huskies.

Rakocevic was able to get a couple of scores in the post, but he tended to miss too often when looking to score on the block, and he even missed on a couple of easy shots around the basket. He tended to miss on shots off the dribble as well as on tip-ins, and he even bricked a wide-open dunk on the break, which resulted in an embarrassing miss for him.

He displayed average at best playmaking skills. He can pass out of the post, as he was able to find an open shooter to notch an assist. However, he had some trouble catching balls, as he dropped a low pass that went out of bounds, and Rakocevic also threw an inaccurate pass another time that sailed out of bounds.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He would leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, but he also was called for committing a foul on a put back on one play.

Defensively, he looked to be about average. Rakocevic was able to alter a shot off of a high post drive, and he also drew a charge when defending in the post. Plus, he broke up a lob pass to help his team force a turnover, and he also stepped up to successfully defend a drive another time. However, he tended to commit fouls when defending opponents off the dribble, and he also had trouble cutting off penetration when defending drives. On another play, he sagged too far off his man, which led him to allow his opponent to score on a long two-point shot.

Overall, Nick Rakocevic did not play very well, and he has continued to struggle in Pac-12 play recently. He doesn’t possess elite physical tools nor possesses much of a face-up game, and he has tended to struggle to guard quicker players on the defensive end. He’s been struggling to score in the post, which seems to have hurt his case as a prospect for the NBA as of late. While he is looking more to be a long shot to be drafted, his ability to score in the post and rebound could enable him to have a lengthy professional basketball career if he doesn’t ever reach the NBA.

USC’s freshman big man, Isaiah Mobley did not play well at all in his team’s loss to Washington. He would often force up shots in the post, and he often had his shots blocked as a result. He did score on a jump hook while getting an extra free throw, but Mobley generally struggled to score on the block, off the dribble, or on mid-range jump shots.

He did show a good ability to draw free throws, as he will crash the glass to help his team get rebounds. However, Mobley was quite turnover prone in this game. He tended to get his passes picked off, and he also committed a traveling violation when posting up another time. On the plus side, he did set a good screen to help free up his teammate for a drive to the hoop late in this game.

Mobley did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he was especially active at crashing the offensive glass. He also seemed to play adequate defense. He was able to tie up an opponent on a rebound to get a steal once. On the other hand, he got backed down when defending in the post another time, as he got beat on a running hook shot on that play to allow the score.

Overall, Mobley put forth a lackluster performance in his team’s loss to Washington, and it’s disappointing that he continually had his shots blocked throughout this contest, that he took no threes from beyond the arc, and that he missed all five of his free throws. He will need to take far more three-point shots and improve his ability to make shots at the foul line, as his lack of elite athleticism combined with his struggles to finish plays around the basket against upper echelon defenders may make it difficult for him to make it to the NBA. Right now, he’s a project player that may be far from being a polished player, but right now, he needs to re-establish his jump shot as a definitive strength of his. Once he can do that, he could move back up on draft boards, and in a favorable scenario, he could perhaps develop into being an effective role player similar to former Houston Rockets’ forward, Matt Bullard in the NBA. Otherwise, if he doesn’t improve his game, Mobley may at best have a rather short career in the league, as he doesn’t possess any one elite skill when he’s on the court.

Washington’s 6-10 redshirt freshman big man, Nate Roberts played very well in limited minutes off the bench. He was very efficient in making shots, as he would run the floor to score on high-flying dunks on fast breaks, he was active at crashing the glass, and he also intercepted a pass to get a steal. Plus, he also rebounded the ball very well. He did commit a couple of fouls defensively, but Roberts had a strong showing in his team’s win over USC. Right now, he is an athletic big man that may project to be a defensive specialist at the next level, and he may be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on in the future.