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NBA Draft Scouting 2015: Jahlil Okafor

Jahlil Okafor
Few college basketball freshman in the history of a sport had as dominant of a season as Jahlil Okafor. The nation's No. 1 recruit, hailing from Whitney Young High School in Chicago, Okafor used his huge frame, massive hands and smooth finishing ability to help lead the Duke Blue Devils to a National Title. But, to nobody's surprise, Okafor made a move that many expected. The big man jumped ship to the NBA after one collegiate season and will quickly be hailed by many as the No. 1 prospect in this year's draft class. But, there are still a number of gaping holes in his game that suggest he should not be the first player taken in late June.

Offense: It really is simple: few players in collegiate basketball could guard a 6'10", 270 pounds and super strong. Okafor could easily get away with getting the ball on the block, making a quick drive to the hoop and finishing over defenders. He will not be able to do that in the NBA at all, and it will be interesting to see if he can adapt. Sure, he has other parts to his offensive game, definitely. Okafor has a quick spin to either hand that is very effective and can also make an impact on the offensive glass, as his massive frame easily allows him to get in great position for put back opportunities. His mid range isn't completely nonexistent, but it is a problem. He didn't need to take a 15-foot jumper in college at all; he could simply take it down low against a weaker defender and push them over. Okafor has massive hands and big arms, which makes it easy for him to outstretch for poor passes and become very strong with hook shots. He is not terrible going to his left offensively but it is clearly not a strength. Push him to the left, he'll try to spin right but he won't be strong enough or quick enough to do that at the next level. Free throw shooting is perhaps the biggest weakness in his entire game. It really is a problem; he is going to get fouled a lot underneath and he has to be able to finish when given the opportunities. Nobody wants a guy who can't put anything in at the end of games, and Okafor consistently missed at the line in some major moments all season long. He certainly can get better, but right now his free throw shooting is far below average, even for a big man. While a smooth operator around the rim, Okafor still has some huge weaknesses in his all around offensive game. Duke was able to simply set him up for easy buckets last year, that will not happen in the NBA. While he does have holes, it is also impossible to teach the size he has and the strength he has to finish around the rim, and he will only get bigger.

Defense: Jahlil really is a wacky defensive player. He is 6'10" and a relative okay shot blocker but you really can't label him as a rim protector, but he isn't quick enough to guard anywhere but the paint. That makes him an uncomfortable tweener, and history has shown tweeners just don't traditionally make it in the NBA. Although he isn't a natural rim protector, he is a pretty decent defender on ball in the post. He is clearly very strong and has a large wingspan and his mere presence can effect shots. He actually moves very well on the low block, and can halt a drive right in it's tracks. But, when you attack Okafor with a head of steam, he will too often foul, and if you can get him in foul trouble, you obviously take an important piece to the team out of the game. It might be a little bit of laziness or maybe fatigue considering he runs the floor pretty well but he will too often hack when someone is attacking him on a long drive. Okafor may never be athletic enough to guard a Frank Kaminsky-like big man, and those types of guys are becoming all too popular these days. Most big man are quicker than Okafor on the dribble and even if you can't get past him once, a quick pass and cut could be a quick bucket. While he does have strong arms and still has that size, Okafor's defense is a concern. Can he grow into a more effective rim protector? Certainly, but he just isn't naturally one yet, but then again, not everyone is Anthony Davis. He has to become a little bit more athletic, although that isn't a major problem. You can't easily get past him on the block but if you can get some space when he is tired and use a pump fake or draw contact, he will usually bite and foul. He has to learn to be patient and smart when near the hoop, or else he will be picking up foul left and right.

Where he Should/Will go: Okafor does have some holes on some important aspects of his game, but he will grow into a much better player. He should improve at the line and possibly improve overall defensively, and perhaps even develop a mid range game without a little more finesse other than just brute power. But, like I said, you can't teach Okafor's size or polish around the hoop and that alone makes him a surefire Top 5 pick. He is just 19 years old, but Okafor already has the general tools to be a dominant big man in the NBA. He certainly could go No. 1 overall, especially if the Knicks land the top pick, considering they are in love with him, but more than likely if it is any other team he will slide to the second or third selection.

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