Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 NBA Draft: Top 10 Prospects — Jahlil Okafor

#2 Jahlil Okafor — 6'11" 270 lbs | 19 yrs-old | Forward/Center | Freshman | Duke

Bio: In his one season at Duke, the Chicago native commanded the spotlight from start to finish, all the way to a title in Indianapolis. Okafor is as proven a commodity as there is in this draft and the safest bet to have a long, productive career. He’s proven himself under pressure and now has won titles in high school, college, and internationally, at USA Basketball’s developmental levels. His conditioning has been a question in the past, but as Okafor rounds into pro-quality playing shape, he has the talent to be the type of player a team can build its offense around for the next decade.

Jahlil Okafor [Upside: Tim Duncan -vs- Downside: Channing Frye]
Strengths: If the modern back-to-the-basket player is a myth, then Okafor is Bigfoot, armed with preternatural instincts within 10 feet of the rim. He enters the NBA with a post game more developed than the majority of big men around the league and is a sure-fire bet to command touches and defensive attention immediately. He’s unselfish, an advanced passer out of double-teams and his midrange game has started to come along. Okafor has the strength to compete inside, the size to guard his position and his 7’5” wingspan will help him as he develops defensively. It’s more a matter of when, not if, he becomes an offensive anchor.
Weaknesses: Though his offensive game is rightfully heralded, Okafor’s free-throw shooting leaves a lot to be desired (51% from the line at Duke). If the NBA changes its hacking rules, the concerns die down, but continued struggles would place a cap on his productivity. Okafor’s defensive performance in college stands as a greater issue, as he was often slow on help rotations and isn’t a leaper, which limits his presence when contesting shots. His defensive rebounding could be much better considering his size and length. His offense should keep him on the floor, but he could be a liability in a pick-and-roll heavy league. Improved positioning and communication is teachable, but Okafor could struggle against NBA athletes. He’s been coachable his entire career, which should serve him well.
NBA comparison: Al Jefferson Sports Illustrated
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