Onyeka Okongwu scored 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists as the Atlanta Hawks ended a five-game losing streak with a 121-114 win over champions Milwaukee Bucks in the State Farm Arena this morning.
The 6ft 8in centre had an impressive and disciplined performance in the victory also recording three blocks including one on 2021 Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo as well as one steal.
Okongwu, a first-round sixth overall pick by the Hawks has been impressive in his last six games shooting over 93 per cent from the field.
His performance against the Buks has earned him plaudits from teammates, Trae Young, and De’Andre Hunter.
Young, a 2020 All-Star has hailed the 20-year-old for his consistent smart plays.
“He’s a lot like me in a lot of ways. We’re small, but we’re smart. He’s small for his position as a big and undersized, but he’s very smart. He knows angles. He knows that guys when they dunk, they bring it back. He knows to go grab the ball,” Young said.
Hunter added, “He plays a lot bigger than he looks. I make fun of him all the time, saying he’s only 6-5, but he plays really hard. He’s a lot stronger than he looks and he’s really athletic… He did a hell of a job today (on Giannis).”
Reacting to his own performance and his ability to guard star names, Okongwu said his job was to always be aggressive on the court and never back down no matter the opposition.
“I’m always going to play physical. I’m always going to do what I do, be aggressive, physical, foul if I need to. I don’t back down to anybody. That’s how it’s always been. How it always will be. That’s the type of player I am,” he said.