3 potential career outcomes for Onyeka Okongwu if he’s drafted by Cavs

USC big man Onyeka Okongwu (#21) celebrates a near-win. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
USC big man Onyeka Okongwu (#21) celebrates a near-win. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Onyeka Okongwu, Cleveland Cavaliers
USC big Onyeka Okongwu looks on. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Cavs Okongwu potential career outcome #3: Key bench player

If Okongwu never becomes an All-Star in the NBA, I firmly believe his floor would be as a key bench player. What he could bring off the bench in terms of energy, defense and rebounding would be a valuable asset to any team.

There are two immediate comparisons that come to mind. The first is Montrezl Harrell of the LA Clippers. Harrell, who won the 2019-20 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award as well as the NBA Hustle Award, averaged 18.6 points and 1.1 blocks per game off the bench for the Clippers.

Although he is not a starter, Harrell has been a key player for the Clippers in multiple postseason runs. Harrell has shown that you do not have to be a starter to be a big-time impact player.

The second player that can be compared to Onyeka Okongwu is Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson. Thompson, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, was a key player during the Cavaliers four NBA Finals showdowns with the Golden State Warriors.

Thompson spent time both as a bench piece and as a starter and he thrived in both roles. Thompson always seemed to be getting key offensive rebounds and putbacks. His effort on the court helped him land a five-year, $82 million contract extension with the Cavaliers back in 2015.

The similarity between Harrell and Thompson is that both players spent time coming off the bench and both players were incredibly important to their teams’ success.

Onyeka Okongwu could develop into a key bench player in the NBA. He has already shown his ability to rebound and block shots, and if Okongwu truly bought into a bench role similar to that of Harrell or Thompson, he could potentially be a future Sixth Man of the Year candidate in the NBA. And that sort of talent is exactly what the Cavaliers need, and he and Larry Nance Jr. could be a very effective pairing in stretches.

It would be interesting to see what sort of bench combinations Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff would try to implement involving Okongwu. In theory, the Cavaliers could have a great bench combo involving Okongwu and Kevin Porter Jr.

That duo would no doubt significantly increase the talent of the Cavaliers bench unit, and again, Nance is clearly a significant bench piece.

In any case, Onyeka Okongwu is definitely someone to be watching come the night of the 2020 NBA Draft.

Next. Cavs: Off-ball O is selling point for Onyeka Okongwu in draft. dark

Depending on how the first four picks of the draft unfold, there could be a scenario where Okongwu is one of the best players available for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that’s seemingly very likely.