In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will be profiled in this space and, in today’s installment, we break down Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu.
Coming off of a sophomore season in which he was named to the All-Big Ten team and the conference’s All-Defense team, Minnesota center Daniel Oturu is readying himself to launch an NBA career. He has an NBA-ready body, checking in at 6’10 and 240 pounds, and an intriguing raw skill set.
As far as a baseline set of tools, Oturu checks the box in a number of key areas important for big men entering the NBA via the draft. He can make shots on the perimeter, converting 36.2% on 52 three-point attempts last season. Despite being very turnover prone, he can also handle the ball a bit by center standards. From there, he shows the potential to move well in space, which is critical to one’s defensive potential for any player of Oturu’s size.
On the other side of the ledger, Oturu does not demonstrate much strength on film. He too often cannot move his defender, nor does he create additional space as a rebounder. He seems to especially lack lower body strength. Oturu also doesn’t yet possess good instincts, nor is he a reliable decision maker.
With that said, Oturu is a young big man with a lot of developmental time ahead of him if he is willing to put in consistent work.
For Oturu, the offensive game seems more sure to translate to the next level at this point. In the modern game, players of his profile that can show things facing the basket, especially in comparison to playing with their back to the basket, generate some optimism that they can function in spot-up situations. That is critical with the continued divestment of the dunker role, in the short roll, and in the increasingly valued pick and pop action.
In this face up situation, Oturu’s play looks simple, but a jab technique in one direction followed by a successful dribble in the other direction to create a path to the rim is relatively advanced stuff.
One might suggest he is going to get few opportunities to do this at the NBA level, and that might be true in that teams are going to run plays for him to get this look as the primary option (as Minnesota often did last year). However, big men that can attack close out defenders when they are chased off out of spot up opportunities can help tremendously with the offensive continuity NBA teams cherish.
As seen on the play above, he can function in the pick and pop near the elbow.
And he can also do it from the three-point line.
Additionally, these foundational ball skills suggest there could be more for him to develop in the right environment and with the necessary work ethic.
Oturu’s shooting motion is clean and repeatable, but also very deliberate. The high release point helped him get away with the lack of form efficiency at the collegiate level. But, he will need to speed it up to make it work in an NBA environment.
During his two years at Minnesota, his best offensive play came at the rim.
He graded as an elite level scorer at the rim, which is noteworthy because even though Oturu did not play with much force. Often, his made baskets were the result of excellent body control and an ability to finish plays with some nuance and feel.
It should be noted that Minnesota ran a professional-style offensive system with a lot of motion and spacing. As such, Oturu often had dedicated space in which to work. He didn’t show as well in tight quarters.
Oturu seems to strongly prefer working in space over taking on a physical match-up. If he is going to crack an NBA rotation with consistency, Oturu is very likely going to have to learn to embrace the more physical areas of the game on both ends of the court.
He will also need to cut down on his turnovers. The continued emergence of dribble hand off (DHO) action and “pistol”-based sets seem a good fit for the potential he brings as a prospect. Still, there will be a ton of refinement needed in areas such as footwork and basic passing.
By all observations, he should be capable of applying himself in the rim-running department and diving to the rim after setting ball screens. So far, though, it appears that he hasn’t been asked to do a lot of either.
Despite blocking 122 shots in 62 collegiate games, Oturu also has a long way to go on the defensive end. He is sometimes solid closing out on perimeter shooters and in other one-on-one settings, but struggles mightily executing in the five-man scheme. He is especially challenged defending the pick and roll.
It is encouraging that Minnesota used many different types of coverage when defending the pick and roll. At times, Oturu would be asked to play a simple drop technique while at others he’d have to play more aggressive coverage. Generally, the more aggressive the technique the better he did. This suggests that he might be able to develop into a reasonably versatile defender with the needed improvement.
At the moment, however, defending in the team scheme is where his lacking instincts and poor decision making shows up the most.
A reduced inclination to commit fouls last year suggests progress and evidence that he was working to improve. His lack of lower body strength, however, forces him to defend bigger plays with his hands more often than with his feet.
In summary, Oturu is a “project” big — despite his gaudy box-score stats — that is projected be drafted at the end of the first round or the beginning of the second round. He would likely be best served joining a team that doesn’t need him to play much during his rookie season and that could offer him regular minutes in the G League for developmental purposes.