Name: Jahlil Okafor
College: Duke University
- Height: 6’11’
- Weight: 270 lbs.
- Wingspan: 7’5’’
Notable Statistics (2014-15 season): 17.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 2.5 TPG, .664 FG%, .51 FT%
Notable Advanced Statistics (2014-15 season): .641 TS%, 6.7 WS, 27.6 USG%, 16.6 TRB%
NBA Comparison: Al Jefferson
- Low Post Scoring: Okafor was by far the best low post scorer in the draft. In college, he was able to use his gigantic frame and strength to back down his defenders. He was then able to use a rare combo of finesse and power to finish around the rim, even against some of the best big man in college. Because of his size, it will be hard to see his low post scoring cease. Look for him to continue with that strength.
- IQ: The big man from Duke understands the game well. His feel and IQ of the game helps him to be a star. This is evident in his ability to draw double teams and make smart plays out of them.
- Size: His 6-foot-11, 270 pound, and 7-foot-5 wingspan makes him a premier NBA big man. Not only does it allow him to score and body up defenders, but it will help him to continue being a strong rebounder. He is as big as any other power forward/center in the NBA and that attribute will not disappear.
- Efficiency: Last season, the Chicago native was one of the most efficient players in college basketball. He shot an amazing 66% from the field, which ranked him second in division one basketball. That, among other things, gave him a player efficiency rating of 30.7, ranking him 8th. If he can continue to be consistent, productive, and systematic, Okafor is looking at a lushish career in the NBA. Although he struggled in the summer league with turnovers and scoring consistently, I do not expect him to repeat that in the seasons to come.
- Shooting: It is no secret that Okafor struggled last season and in the summer league with shooting the basketball. He shot a mere 51% from the line in college. In the summer league he was worse, shooting 39%. He needs to restructure his jumper as soon as possible or he will struggle to find space in the NBA.
- Ball Handling: During much of the summer league, Okafor had problems getting positioning on the block against the physical defenders he faced. Due to this, he would often be pushed out towards the elbow. When he caught the ball, he would sometimes try to break down his defender off of the dribble. Majority of the time he failed. This caused him to average 4.6 turnovers per game. If he wants to put the ball on the floor, he must improve his dribbling.
- Effort: Most people do not doubt Okafor’s effort and attitude off of the court. He seems to work hard and noticeably got in good shape during his time at Duke. However, while on the court, Okafor doesn’t always seem to be working hard for positioning. This results in him receiving the ball too far away from the hoop. Therefore, during the summer league, he would take bad shots (44% FG%) and turn the ball over (4.6 per game).
- Athleticism: Part of Okafor’s downside is that he isn’t unbelievably athletic or fast. This becomes a concern on the defensive end. Will he be able to stay in front of the quicker, more agile big men in the NBA? We will see. However, he is a smart basketball player and if he can play fundamental defense, he should be fine.
Good Pick or Bad Pick?
Considering who was on the board at the time, Okafor was a good pick for the Sixers. There are some concerns for the big man from Duke, but he will provide one thing the Sixers haven’t had since Allen Iverson: a go-to scorer. For the entirety of his career, Okafor should be able to put up major points regardless of his jump shot, ball handling skills, or the kind of players built around him. As the league transitions away from traditional back-to-the-basket big men, Okafor will always add a scoring punch in the paint.
Picture courtesy of philadelphia.cbslocal.com