A Royal Selection: Jahlil Okafor


Jahlil Okafor

Height: 6’ 11” Weight: 270

Jahlil Okafor spent most of the year as the assumed number one pick. He is an extremely impressive big man who does much of what NBA teams covet. He averaged 17.4 points and 8.5 rebounds during his freshman season at Duke. He was a monster in the post. He commanded a constant double team.

For an NBA that seems to be evolving towards a more wing heavy focus, Okafor is still a very interesting prospect that has the potential to go as high as the top spot. 10 years ago there would have been no questions about him going 1, but teams are coveting more from their big man theses days. Karl-Anthony Towns is all but assured he will go number 1 come Thursday, but Okafor could come off of the board as high as number two. You could also make a case that he could fall to 6 or 7 with the top 5 teams looking elsewhere. Even if the Kings or Nuggets weren’t the team taking him, a team would likely trade up to select him.

At the next level, Okafor has the ability to step in day one possessing an NBA skill. That skill is a NBA post game. He has a bevy of post moves and counters to those moves that will work in the NBA. His massive hands allow him to hold a ball like a grapefruit. He also can pass out of double teams and get his teammates involved. Offensively it is all there for this prospect.

So where does the hesitation come in for Okafor? The defensive end of the floor is a concern for teams considering Okafor. For a guy who is almost 7 feet tall, he doesn’t protect the rim like you would hope. His rebounding ability was a concern, even at Duke. He could pad his stats on the offensive end simply because he was so big. Rebounding is about drive and want-to. His drive is a bit of a question mark. He also provides a bit of a problem from teams in the big picture.

Apr 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Jahlil Okafor (15) dunks against Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine (45) and guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) in the first half of the 2015 NCAA Men

If you make Okafor a franchise cornerstone you will need to figure out who to play next to him. On offense, you will need a big who can help space the floor, even if it’s simply hitting 15 to 17 foot jump shots. On defense, you will need a rim protector and willing rebounder. These kinds of players are not easily found and often will cost a pretty penny if not right away, pretty quickly afterwards.

The only scenario I can envision the Kings ending up with Okafor is if they have made a trade, likely moving DeMarcus Cousins elsewhere. If the Kings land two picks in the top 6, they could take Okafor and ideally Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis can step out on the offensive end and protect the rim on defense. And with Okafor’s passing ability big to big alley-oops could be a nice part of the offense. While Okafor likely goes from 2 to 4 Thursday, he could be a casualty if teams covet point guard, european potential or shooting.