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A look at the different ways Ochai Agbaji is making an impact

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Ochai Agbaji is the youngest lottery pick in Utah Jazz. It comes with some high potential expectations. Despite this, the 22-year-old rookie couldn’t find minutes in his first few months in the league. Agbaji is a natural winger, and Utah’s wing minutes are dominated by Luri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and Malik Beasley. The remaining minutes in this position were unexpected. Tallinn Horton-Tacker and Nickel Alexander-Walker were at times first choice coach Will Hardy for those minutes. Both have done well in the opportunities given to them. For some time, it looked like Agbaje might not get a real chance this season to show what he can do.

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On January 3, Will Hardy told the media that it was time to give Ochai Agbaji some playing time. That day, Agbaje got his first taste of NBA rotation minutes against Sacramento KingsAnd they went as you might expect. He played 7 minutes, shot 0-2 from the field, and recorded 1 turnover. He looked passive and perhaps a little afraid.

As the tension of the first match wore off, Agbaje immediately began performing the way many thought he could. He scored career highs in each of his next two games, with 11 followed by 19. Since the January 3 Jazz game, Agbaji has played at least 17 minutes per game, shooting 11-19 from three, and even started shutting out some clutch games.

Black break

Month Toys min / game Total minutes Points / game FG% 3P% TS% NetRTG
Month Toys min / game Total minutes Points / game FG% 3P% TS% NetRTG
October 4 14.7 59 5 42.1 0 45.3 -2.2
November 3 3.2 10 0 0 0 0 0
Dec 9 6.5 23 2.6 39.1 33.3 48.2 4.9
January 8 20.4 163 6.9 57.1 57.1 73.9 4.5

As promising as the stats were, we’re starting to see something more significant. Ochai Agbaji looks like he belongs there.

Instead of being a passive spectator of the attack, he is actively cutting, checking, spacing and shooting. Running in transition. understand spacing. It is even beginning to show some signs of self-creation in space.

Agbagi’s attack starts with a three point shot. A role in the NBA is ready and waiting for him to fill. Every team wants “3&D” sporting wings. For Agbaje to be that guy, he would have to be a three-point knockout. So far, it has shown promising signs. Although most of his three-points were open three-pointers from the corner, he showed that he can pull off good contests and is capable of hitting triples from the move. If he can pose a real threat to scraping shots from screens, that increases his value exponentially.

Defenders will overextend themselves to close in on you when threatened from the outside. So you need to be able to take advantage of that. Ochai Agbaji has really excelled at attacking shutouts this year, making a simple yet clever read to get runs off the ball or make an extra pass to the opener.

Instead of just waiting in the corner for a pass to come his way, Agbaje was actively cutting the ball, opening up passing lanes all over the field. At times, he would catch his cannons while he slept and manage to get easy buckets over the rim. One of the things I liked seeing him respond when his pieces were stopped by good defending. He takes it in stride, moves around, communicates with his team, and still creates space on the field.

Another fun part of Ochai Agbaji’s game is his open court game. Agbaje’s sports life has always been getting a lot of attention, and this is where he can brag about it. Agbaji is ready to run ahead of the defense when his shot goes up. He can outrun almost anyone and can fly high for over-the-edge finishes. Unfortunately for fans, he hasn’t had much opportunity to build a dunk reel so far this season, but it will come. When he can’t get ahead in defence, Agbaji navigates to the flanks and corners and isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on the third corner.


All in all, Ochai Agbaje has shown us that he really does have the potential that led him to participate in the lottery last June. He’s still a rookie and somewhat raw talent, but he gets real minutes and gets results. The more we see him, the more excited his future gets.

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