Jahlil Okafor goes 3rd to Philadelphia 76ers


Duke’s Jahlil Okafor was selected third overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2015 NBA Draft. Okafor was the highest ACC player taken and the first of three first rounders to come from Duke.

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Jahlil Okafor = Not Number 2?

The story of the top of the NBA Draft was widely thought to be a tale of two big men. Those two big men were Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky and Okafor. They were supposed to go one and two overall in some order. Some observers, like ESPN’s Jay Bilas, believed that Okafor was the top rated player on the draft board as a whole.

However as the Draft got closer critics seemed to find weakness in Okafor that they had not really cared about before. While they conceded that he was a tremendous scorer, they began to emphasize his defensive shortcomings. Also his free throw shooting became a problem where Okafor had shot 51%.

Even Bilas conceded that there was a better pure basketball player in the draft pool. That player was D’Angelo Russell, the Ohio State guard. Russell was described as having passing skills of a high level and a sweet left-handed shot. He began to appear at the Lakers’ spot in mock drafts, including our own Josh Powell’s.

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Why the sudden interest in Russell? The Lakers became linked to several high level big men. They were noted to be after free agents Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. DeMarcus Cousins was trying to force a trade to the Lakers (Kings will fire George Karl first by the way, they know Cousins is the difference maker on that squad).

The odds are good, for Lakers fans, that the Lakers will attract a big man. That made Okafor unnecessary for them. Russell became the pick with the idea that he can pair with Kobe for a year and then be the star of the future.

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Russell to the Lakers meant the Philadelphia 76ers were denied the Ohio State guard. They were faced with taking Okafor or taking Kristaps Porzingis. Okafor is ready to play now, while Porzingis will need to bulk up. Okafor might be a better trade piece.

The 76ers now has three young bigs to sort out. Nerlens Noel is a defensive talent. Joel Embiid missed his rookie season with an injury, and he may miss next year with similar issues. If Embiid does miss time, then Okafor’s role is obvious. He becomes the post brother of Noel. If Embiid comes back, it will take some creative management to get them all the minutes they will need.

If this was the draft where the 76ers were gain some clarity, then we were disappointed. Okafor should be a fine addition, but the 76ers franchise still looks rudderless.

Next: Powell Mock Draft