Seldom does eleventh-hour draft hype prove significant. This time, however, the Sixers were blindsided at the last minute.
The Philadelphia 76ers selected center Jahill Okafor with the third pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Philadelphia had its sights set on Ohio State Buckeye D’Angelo Russell. Russell, a scoring wing player, was reportedly rated far above his colleagues on the Sixers draft board. The fact that the Sixers’ infatuation with Russell indicates the Sixers failed to keep information from leaking. The Lakers certainly used this to their advantage, and selected Russell before Philadelphia ever had the chance.
Okafor played for the Duke team that won the NCAA tournament this past spring, and was instrumental to leading the Blue Devils in the later rounds of the tournament. His offensive game is strong near the basket, as is his rebounding and shot blocking. Okafor is known for his large hands, which ESPN featured in an article comparing his hand size to footballs, baseballs, fruits, etc. Okafor is similar to Joel Embiid minus the shooting range Embiid possesses. Many who saw Okafor play in high school believe he has shades of Tim Duncan in him with his agility as a big man.
With news that Joel Embiid is missing summer league, Sam Hinkie didn’t hesitate to take the best player available to the Sixers at pick 3. If Embiid is healthy and full develops, the Sixers concavely have three solid post players, and could easily trade one away from considerable return. If Embiid struggles to gain fitness and/or Noel cannot develop, then Okafor is a player the team could rely on.