LOS ANGELES – After his first taste of NBA action Saturday, Josh Okogie had an unusual observation you don’t hear often from rookies.
“In college everything is fast, fast, fast,” Okogie said. “But here everything is so slow.”
You might think it would be the other way around, considering the NBA has the world’s elite players. The Timberwolves first-round draft pick tried to clarify what he meant.
“It’s not really how fast you go but it’s just how precise and how accurate you can make decisions,” said Okogie, who had 10 points in the victory over the Warriors.
So far, Okogie has made a lot of good decisions for the Wolves, who, from coach Tom Thibodeau to his teammates, have been impressed with Okogie’s development into an legitimate NBA player. When you poll the room to ask what impresses everyone the most about Okogie, they all use the same word — energy.
“I said if you do nothing else for us this year, if you bring that type of energy on a daily basis, you’re going to get on the court and help us win games,” Anthony Tolliver said.
Added Taj Gibson: “He has so much energy. He’s young, really bouncy. He isn’t just another rookie.”
So Okogie, the No. 20 overall pick out of Georgia Tech, has to balance his copious energy with not trying to play overly fast in a game that demands precision and skill.
“We are moving fast but you have to make decisions and when you try to be fast, you’re more prone to getting stuck, committing turnovers and all that,” Okogie said. “I think my biggest adjustment is being slow, being able to read the defense and take what the defense is giving me.”
Okogie, however, doesn’t want the fact that he has to slow down to dampen his energy. There’s more than a physical component to playing with a high volume of it, Okogie said. He wants it to be infectious, so that it carries over to others on the team, like the way frenetic Thunder guard Russell Westbrook plays.
“You see how much energy he plays with, it increased the intensity of the whole team,” Okogie said. “My energy may not get me steals or points, but just to get everybody else moving at a higher pace, waking everybody else up. If that happens I’m fine, I’ve reached my goal. … Even if it’s on the sideline, energy is contagious. You have energy on the sideline, somebody makes a shot, everybody is cheering. It helps the next guy make a shot.”
Okogie has been trying to act like a sponge in his first few weeks of practice. He said he has been getting advice from all corners of the team.
“Derrick [Rose] might tell me something that you have to be aggressive,” Okogie said. “[Andrew Wiggins] might say look to shoot. … If a guy like Wigs, who’s one of the main offensive threats telling you to shoot, I should probably shoot.”
But the one refrain Okogie has heard from everyone is to keep the same energy, no matter what.
“If you’re going to handle the ball against him or if you’re going to go against him just know that he’s going to fight you,” Tolliver said.
• Thibodeau said the status of Jimmy Butler, who requested a trade Sept. 18, remains a “fluid situation.”
Thibodeau said Sept. 24 that Butler needed a week to continue rehabilitating a surgically repaired right hand but that he expected Butler to rejoin the team when that week was up. However, Butler was not with the team in Los Angeles for practice Monday.
Thibodeau didn’t say if he expected Butler to join the Wolves at any time before the team could complete a deal.
“Like I said our job is to focus on the guys that are here,” Thibodeau said. “That’s what we’re doing as we get ready for our next game and our improvement each day. ”