If there is someone who seems most similar to Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, it’s Minnesota Timberwolves rookie guard Josh Okogie.
Analysts and front offices alike were looking for the next Mitchell in the 2018 NBA Draft.
On a recent podcast, host Chris Vernon noted that ESPN’s Kevin Pelton brought up a great point about Mitchell. According to Pelton, Mitchell shot significantly better in the restricted area during his first season in the NBA than he did when he was in college (via The Ringer):
“He said in college if you go back and watch, Mitchell was a two-foot leaper. And he learned how to jump off of one foot… and it changed everything. In fact, I was talking to somebody last night, an NBA front office guy. I brought up the Mitchell thing [and] he said that’s why I love Okogie.“
The executive said that if Minnesota could get Okogie to jump off one foot, he would be able to drastically improve his ability to finish at the rim.
As a freshman, Okogie shot 62-of-115 (53.9 percent) from the restricted area at Georgia Tech. For comparison, Mitchell was 68-of-126 (53.9 percent) during his final season at Louisville. Then, Mitchell shot 61.7 percent from the restricted area as a rookie once he made this improvement.
Based on the data supplied by Will Schreefer for The Stepien, Okogie was also more accurate on three-pointers from NBA distance than Mitchell was when he was in college. Mitchell, for what it’s worth, set the record for most three-pointers ever made by a rookie this past NBA season.
Both ACC players have similar builds and put up comparable stats on both ends of the court, as this head-to-head comparison shows:
Okogie is taller than Mitchell with a longer wingspan and a better standing reach as well. He measured faster than Mitchell was with a better max vertical, too.
Okogie also averaged more points and rebounds per game during their most recent collegiate seasons too. Okogie spent two years in college, whereas Mitchell was a one-and-done player, but the similarities are still worth noting.
Okogie recently spoke about his former ACC rival (via Salt Lake Tribune):
“Everybody is surprised [by his breakout season]. I’m not. Just playing with him, you always saw what he was capable of. He’s a fierce guy, really tough to guard and he goes at it. He wants to tear the rim down each and every possession.”
As they head into the upcoming season, don’t be surprised if the Mitchell-Okogie comparisons continue, especially if the Timberwolves rookie learns to jump off one foot, rather than two.