Suddenly it looks as though Duke’s Jahlil Okafor might be available at the No. 4 spot for the New York Knicks in next week’s NBA Draft.
By Robby Sabo
The 2015 NBA Draft is looking more and more like that time Superman stopped the Earth’s rotation and went back in time to save Lois Lane.
For the better part of the last calendar year, Duke’s super-freshman Jahlil Okafor was widely considered the top baller in the draft. He was the bonafide No. 1 pick with no hesitation or worries.
Then, Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns surpassed him.
Now, however, there’s recent chatter that Okafor could actually slide even further than No. 2.
This brings up an interesting scenario for Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks.
Do the Knicks pounce on Okafor if he’s there?
Throughout the entire dreadful 2014-15 season that saw this miserable franchise go 17-65 (second-worst in the league), we all were under the impression the No. 1 or No. 2 was heading our way.
Of course, these are Knicks, so they wound up with No. 4.
What went from pure disappointment eventually lead to some calmer-headed people realizing the No. 4 pick would force Jackson to select a guard or a swing, instead one of the top-two bigs (Towns, Okafor). Because the NBA is so guard-prevalent, this thought process started to pick up steam.
Now, a lot of chatter is coming out about how Russell and Porzingis are flying up the draft board.
Both guys have been extremely impressive in workouts.
Some even feel the Los Angeles Lakers could snatch Porzingis up at No. 2.
Draft scuttle: Hearing Porzingis not only in play for Philly at No. 3 but now giving Lakers something to ponder at No. 2. Stock rising fast
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 13, 2015
In any event, the truth that Towns and Okafor would be an automatic top-two is now completely out the window. In fact, Magic Johnson is so enamored with Russell at the moment that he could easily find his way to Hollywood while Philadelphia takes Porzingis (or the other way around).
This scenario would leave the Knicks with an interesting discussion to have.
Does Phil dare take Okafor in this situation, or does he go Mudiay or even Justise Winslow?
Personally, my feeling is Jackson would take Okafor in a heartbeat. He’s a big with immense offensive potential who Jackson could see easily fitting in on the low block in the triangle.
If it was up to me, however, I’d stay as far away from Okafor as humanly possible.
If Towns, Russell and Porzingis go one, two, three, then I’d look to trade down or take the best basketball player available, which would be Winslow.
Simply put, Okafor cannot play defense. Duke clamped down on defense during the NCAA Tournament much better when the big man was out of the game and Winslow was doing everything to fill the gaps on the team.
Furthermore, when was the last time a center was drafted this high and exceeded expectations?
Winslow is the most ready pro guy who’s amazingly only 19-years old. He defends, hustles, works, shoots and even handles the ball. He’s a guy who fits the NBA mold better than anybody on the board aside from Russell.
Admittedly, Winslow does create some positional problems with Carmelo Anthony already in the fold and Mudiay does bring some intrigue along with his phenomenal athletic ability, but the feeling that he cannot shoot the ball is a deal-breaker.
THIS LEAGUE IS A SWING/GUARD DOMINATED PLACE WHERE SHOOTING REIGNS SUPREME.
This league is a swing/guard dominated place where shooting reigns supreme, and Jackson must recognize this.
Justise Winslow needs to be the Knicks guy at No. 4.
Phil, if you’re listening, please don’t allow your mistake of signing Melo to a max-deal screw this draft pick up. Select the best player, not the best fit.
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