With the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers have selected freshman center Jahlil Okafor after the Los Angeles Lakers passed on him. With Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Dario Saric already drafted in the last few years, it’ll be interesting to see if one of the young bigs gets moved in the near future.
The former Duke Blue Devil is a master on the low block, combining a soft touch with a 270-pound frame, allowing him to get great position and use his nimble feet to create angles to score.
The National Player of the Year runner-up has an array of post moves and a defined NBA position with a frame that’ll only improve in time. Okafor showed a nice touch on short jumpers (50.0 percent on 160 attempts, per hoop-math.com), keeping the defense honest without a three-point threat. Okafor will be a building block at center for years to come, but he’s not the perfect prospect by any means.
Okafor needs to improve as a free throw shooter, as he only shot 51.0 percent as a freshman. Okafor isn’t an elite athlete, and it showed in his shot-blocking numbers at Duke. He swatted a solid 1.4 blocks per game, but with a wingspan around the 7-5 or 7-6 range, you’d think he’d have more of an impact defensively in college.
Initially, Okafor will have to adjust to defending the pick-and-roll at the NBA level, as he’s not the quickest big moving laterally. Okafor also will need to work on passing out of double teams down the line, as he struggled with a 0.52 assist-to-turnover ratio in his lone season at Duke.
NBA comparison: Al Jefferson
2014-15 stats: 17.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg (66.4 FG%, 51.0 FT%)