Evaluating Elie Okobo in a FIBA Europe Cup Game

May 11, 2017

By Alan Lu

I wanted to take the time to watch Pau-Orthez’s 6-2 point guard, Elie Okobo play in a full game, as he is also an early entry candidate for the 2017 NBA Draft.  Luckily, there are plenty of matches online to view him.  Therefore, with thanks to YouTube via FIBA, I decided to see him play against Alba Fehervar in a FIBA Europe Cup contest that was played on January 4th this year.  Here is how he fared in this game, as well as how he currently rates as a prospect for the NBA.

Elie Okobo does a good job of attacking the basket to garner scores in the paint.  The most impressive basket he made was when he got the ball off of a quick baseline cut to the rim, and he scored on a pretty, acrobatic reverse layup.  Plus, he has a solid first step off the dribble, and he can use a pump fake move to take advantage of when his opponents guard him too fast out on the arc, as he will attack close outs to get past them.  As that is the case, Okobo can draw numerous fouls on hard drives to the basket.  Plus, he will also run the floor to get open for transition scoring opportunities.

He also looked to be a decent shooter from all over the floor.  Okobo was very good range, and he can make a quick, open spot-up three off the catch.  But sometimes, he can be quite streaky with his jumper, and he also can be prone to taking bad shots on occasion.  One shot he took was when he received the ball with little time left in the shot clock, as he used some really nifty ball handling moves, but took a rushed deep pull-up three that resulted in an airball.   On the final play of the game, he did a nice job of splitting a double team when he dribbled up the court, only to heave up a strange three-point attempt that missed badly at the buzzer even though his team was up by 26, as that shot only served to hurt his shooting percentages a bit.

Okobo also possesses solid playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that will tend to look for the open man, and he will look for his teammates quite often, almost to a fault.  He does a very good job of making accurate passes when he is on the floor, and he can push the pace and use nifty dribble moves to get them scoring opportunities.  He possesses very good court vision, and he also can use a behind the back dribble move to calmly avoid ball pressure when bringing the ball up.  But sometimes, he can be careless with the basketball at times, as on one occasion, he lofted up a pass that ended up being intercepted once.

One of the best plays he made was off of a really bad pass that he managed to chase down.  His teammate had threw quite an inaccurate pass that sailed towards the other corner, and Okobo managed to quickly run from the top of the key to the far right corner to get to the loose ball before it went out of bounds or to a defender, and he promptly then drove in to kick it out to a shooter to set up a shot for a teammate of his.  He also displayed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball.  Okobo has good leaping ability, overall athleticism, and instincts, as he can grab long boards on the defensive end, and he can tip balls to teammates to help them collect others.

Also, Okobo showed off solid defensive skills.  He possesses a great motor, which can really help him contest shots to force misses.  On one play, he managed to hustle back on defense to make a chase down block in transition.  He also will stay with his man on drives, as he can successfully challenge and alter shots, and he tends to make crisp rotations that can force his opponents to pass up a shot or make a difficult pass.  On the downside, he at times may struggle to fight through screens at times, and on one occasion, he was called for fouling a shooter on a mid-range jump shot.

In general, Elie Okobo is an intriguing prospect, as he could potentially be a great find in the 2017 NBA Draft.  He is a young, athletic point guard that has a good feel for the game, and he has been playing fairly well in France’s top league.  He has solid physical tools, smarts, and skills, and he could end up being a good get for NBA teams in the late first to the second round range on draft day.

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