The Utah Jazz acquired Ochai Agbaji in the Donovan Mitchell trade last offseason. In his rookie season, Agbaji rode the bench for a few months before Coach Will Hardy said he would be in the rotation for the rest of the way. From then on, Agbaji worked to be a valuable “3 & D” player. Jazz fans will hope for and expect significant improvements in his second season.
Age/Season: 23 years old, second season
Measurements: 6’5”, 215 lbs, 6’10” wingspan
Last Season Stats: 7.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists per game, 56.1% true shooting (42.7% FG, 35.5% 3P, 81.2% FT)
Ochai Agbaji is an athletic two-way wing. Offensively, his primary value is in off-ball scoring. Agbaji is a floor spacer with real three-point shooting talent. His 35.5% percentage was nothing special, but rookies often struggle to shoot. That percentage should rise over the next couple of seasons. Agbaji’s 1.15 points per spot-up possession ranked second among Jazz regular rotation players, behind only Lauri Markkanen (1.23).
Agbaji is also an impressive cutter, scoring 1.33 points per cutting possession. That number ranked third among rotation players for Utah last season, behind only big men Kelly Olynyk and Lauri Markkanen. Ochai is a solid finisher and a quit cutter. Most of his points will likely come from spot-up threes, attacking closeouts, cuts, and transition. He has shown some on-ball skills, but with the logjam Utah has in the backcourt, there isn’t much ballhandling responsibility.
Ochai’s defense was up and down last season. As with most rookies, he made a lot of defensive mistakes. The good news was that the potential was there in plain sight. Agbaji’s level of improvement on defense will be a significant factor in his impact on the court. He has all the tools, and he has the effort. He needs to put it all together with a little more experience.
The worst-case scenario for Agbaji’s second season would be a lack of improvement. Rookies are expected to struggle with shot efficiency and defense. Second-year players aren’t given that slack anymore. Agbaji will have to raise his shooting numbers and be a lockdown defender. If he doesn’t, he could fall out of the rotation.
The best-case scenario for Agbaji would be a season in which he continues his trend from the end of last season. After the All-Star break, Agbaji played 30 minutes per game and averaged 13.5 points. If he can keep producing when minutes come his way, he can work his way into the starting lineup. He’ll need to be a knockdown shooter, a strong defender, and a good team player. If he checks those boxes, he’ll be firmly in Utah’s future.