Height/Weight: 6’6, 210 lbs
You don’t often see Ivy League players in NBA draft discussions, but Yale’s Miye Oni is an absolute stud, and one of the more intriguing prospects in the upcoming 2019 NBA draft. The 6’6 wing from Northridge, California caught the attention of NBA front offices as a sophomore in 2018 due to his superior athletic ability. He’s followed that up this season by displaying an improved jump shot and scoring ability, cementing himself as a legitimate candidate to be selected in the 2019 draft.
When dissecting Oni’s game, the first thing that jumps out is his athleticism. He’s on another level in Ivy League competition, as his combination of speed, strength, and leaping ability is unmatched and allows for him to get a shot off whenever he wants. It also helps him significantly on the defensive end, as Oni is quick enough to stay in front of most guards, while also being able to suffocate them with his length and height advantage.
Even though he possesses superior athleticism, you won’t find him cheating on defense, as he plays fundamentally sound off the ball and is always getting in passing lanes and ready to help off his man, while rarely ever getting caught ball-watching. Oni has the potential to become an elite wing defender at the next level. His hops are some of the best in all of college hoops, as he is nearly impossible to block at the rim and has blessed us with several highlight real dunks throughout his years with the Bulldogs.
Another thing I really like about Oni’s game is his improvement as a shooter from his sophomore to junior year. He shot the three pretty well as a freshman, but dipped down to just 31% from deep as a sophomore. Oni put in work in the offseason to keep improving his jump shot, and it has paid dividends, as he will finish his junior season shooting around 40% from three.
Miye Oni lighting it up for Yale early on today pic.twitter.com/o5WEpyilEd
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) March 2, 2019
His stroke is a bit slow, but he keeps the ball high when he starts his shot and possesses a smooth follow through. His overall field goal percentage is up this year as well, and he has upped his scoring average while improving his shooting splits at all three levels, a sign of efficiency that NBA teams love to see from guys coming out.
Miye Oni is still a pretty raw talent, and he relies too much on his athleticism, especially on offense. He doesn’t have a lot of moves when attacking the basket, as he basically just uses his body and superior athleticism to go through defenders and force his way to the rim. It works for him in the Ivy League, but it certainly won’t in the NBA, where he’ll face better athletes every night than he’s ever seen at the collegiate level.
He needs to tighten up his handle and develop a couple of go-to moves in order to create his own shot at the next level. Oni also needs to develop a better left hand, as his handle, especially when referring to his finishing ability, have a long way to go.
While Oni is becoming a very good catch and shoot guy, he needs to get better at shooting off the dribble. He doesn’t pull up very often, as he typically either shoots from three or puts it on the deck and takes it all the way to the rim. He has the touch to knock down mid-range jumpers, but he needs to work on shooting them in rhythm and knowing when to pull-up rather than going all the way to the hoop. Adding a consistent mid-range jumper would keep defenders guessing and make Oni much more difficult to guard, and would also go a long way in helping him make an NBA roster and stick around the league.
Oni’s decision making and playmaking ability need to get better as well. He tends to force the issue on offense when he hasn’t taken a shot in awhile or feels that he has mismatch. I’d like to see him do a better job of taking what the defense gives him and cut down on forced shots and bad passes.
While his assist numbers are up this year, he still has a lot of room to improve as a passer/playmaker. He tends to put his head down when driving, which causes him to miss open teammates and kick out opportunities. This goes along with the ball-handling issues I mentioned above, and as he improves and gains more confidence in his handle, better playmaking ability should follow suit.
Miye Oni has gone from unheard of, to under the radar, to a well-known legitimate draft prospect in about a year’s time. There’s no doubt that he’d be able to keep up with the rest of the league athletically and on the defensive end. However, his raw ability and need for improvement in many skill areas make it a mystery as to how much value he could provide a team on offense.
As of now, Oni is teetering on the edge of the second round to being undrafted. While his raw ability and number of question marks could scare teams away, I could easily see a good team taking a shot at him late in the second because of his physical tools, shooting ability, and high upside. Oni could always take advantage of the new rules allowing underclassmen to go through the draft process and receive an evaluation, and then use that feedback to decide to either stay in the draft or withdraw his name and return for his senior season. Testing the waters seems like the right idea for Oni, and he is a guy to keep an eye on as the draft deadline approaches at the end of May.