2022 NBA Draft scouting report: Ochai Agbaji

Ochai Agbaji wrapped up the 2021-2022 college season with as much hardware as possible. In addition to being part of the national championship team, he was named the NCAA Tournament and Big 12 Tournament Outstanding Player and won the Big 12 Player of the Year award.

It was a successful senior season for Kansas City Product, who improved impressively during his four years at the University of Kansas. Most notably, he went from being a rather questionable perimeter shooter to one of the top individual shooters in the 2022 NBA draft class. Last season, Agbaji converted 40.7% of his 253 three-point attempts.

The improved percentage is just a small part of his growth as a Sagittarius. His ability to generally shoot on the move and sprint off screens, along with his incredibly precise footwork, sets him apart from most shooters his age, even the elite shooters.

As an interested party, he is the manifestation of the so-called 3&D player. In addition to his shooting skills, Agbaji is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in his class. His reputation may be a little over the top, as Kansas used a mix of defensive schemes that often took the pressure off their attack point defenders.

However, he shows plenty of useful athleticism and was tested at the NBA draft combine, as expected. Still, we really didn’t see him having to defend himself consistently in tight spaces and heavy traffic. If he’s asked to spend a lot of time defending on the ball at the next level, he’ll have to prove he can navigate screens and the like adequately.

But overall he’s a bouncy athlete with a helpfully narrow frame and a reliable motor that should set him up to launch on a good trajectory as a defender.

There will be important questions about how his size affects how much defensive versatility he will bring to the NBA level. He stands 6’4 12 (no shoes) with a 6’10 14 Span. That’s a desirable length for a 216-pound frame.

Agbaji looks like the role of a guard who will add value to point guards in the form of De’Anthony Melton, albeit with a bit more size to work with.

Offensively, shooting is the part of his game that should get him grounded relatively early in his NBA career. On paper, it should work well alongside a commonly used point guard or wing.

However, there are important questions about his other ball skills. Agbaji is a fairly limited ball handler and passer. It can be difficult to gauge his current abilities in these areas given the Jayhawks’ strictness on offense. Also because he plays the ball outstandingly.

Still, he racked up 62 assists compared to 80 turnovers last season when he found slightly more playing opportunities. As a creator, he just doesn’t look very comfortable or natural.

However, given its growth in other areas, it wouldn’t be too unexpected that it develops sufficiently during these important stages. Getting right will be a crucial prognosis for NBA teams as it is difficult to play a 6’4 wing that struggles to get the ball to the ground successfully, especially when coming from the three-pointer line is chased away.

He makes up for some of his shortcomings in halffield by acting as a dynamic contributor in transition, where he uses his vertical skills as a breakaway. Even in half-field sets, he often served as a lob threat, particularly situationally in sideline-out-of-bounds (SLOB) and after-timeout (ATO) contexts.

What is most encouraging about his overall development potential is the amount of nuance and attention to detail he has shown in his strengths. NBA teams often trust the broader path of development of a player who has demonstrated the precise execution of Agbaji.

Widely predicted to be drafted midway through the first round, he’s the type of player whose draft outcome could be heavily impacted by how many trading plays are required as teams may pile in to adopt a certain perspective.

A number of teams targeting drafting in the 20’s such as Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Dallas and Miami may see it as a plug and play 3&D wing worthy of drafting. At the same time, teams might try to get into the lottery to include players they see as potential higher-ceilinged candidates, which might slide him down a bit.

Wherever he lands, he’ll likely get a chance to play in front of numerous players who are expected to be drafted before him.

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