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Orange In The D-League: Arinze Onauku's Still Got It

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Ian Teti returns to get us up to speed on how the D-League season is going for Arinze Onuaku. Is his chance to get back to the NBA coming?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Back in December I wrote about how former SU forward/center Arinze Onuaku needed a strong season in the NBA D-League with the Canton Charge to make the jump to the next level: The NBA. Since then, the 6’9" Onuaku has not disappointed in showcasing his skills, and his stat sheets back that.

The Lanham, MD product is averaging 14.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg, which are better than any season under Orange head coach Jim Boeheim. His efficiency rating is +18.75 in 24 minutes per game this season.

Onuaku’s numbers in the month of February – six games – have seen a spike. In the past month, Onuaku is averaging 15.3 ppg and 13.3 rpg. You have to admit, even at the D-League level, that those numbers are really solid.

I previously touched on Onuaku’s size and build being the factors that were keeping him out of the Association. However, despite size, strong numbers are tough to dispute, and there’s no questioning that Onuaku is producing out on the court this season for the Charge.

I think Onuaku’s most comparable NBA counterpart is J.J. Hickson. Last season on the Trailblazers, Hickson was averaging 12.7 ppg and 10.4 rpg, which is similar to how Onuaku’s stat sheets read. Hickson has been successful playing the forward/center position at 6’9" as well, so we won’t question Arinze being too small to play. On the other hand, Hickson is 242 lbs compared to Onuaku’s 275 lbs, making the former much quicker on the court – an absolute necessity in the Association.

Onuaku has skill, there’s no denying that. But to be productive and to get noticed by NBA teams, he might have to drop some weight and add some speed to his game. If he manages to drop to about 260 lbs, you could see his minutes and points go up at least. To be an NBA player, you have to be built like an NBA player.

Ian Teti has been a contributing basketball columnist for CBSNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter @icteti