Our NBA Draft Profile series comes to a conclusion as we take a look at the top ACC player on the board for Thursday night in Duke big man Jahlil Okafor. Okafor’s tremendous offensive game has him near the top of every NBA team’s wish list heading into draft night. Let’s breakdown his game.
PF/C Jahlil Okafor, Duke
- Age 19
- 6’11” 275 lbs.
- Wingspan: 7′ 5″
- Standing Reach: 9′ 2 1/2″
Jahlil Okafor has been called one of the most offensively skilled big man to enter the NBA Draft in recent memory. At Duke, Okafor scored 17.3 points, and added 8.6 rebounds per game as a freshman, displaying a wide array of post moves as Duke’s force down low. His free throw shooting, as he acknowledges publicly, needs a great deal of work, as he was only a 51% shooter from the charity stripe. Although Okafor is not very athletic, he has outstanding footwork on the block, allowing him to overpower smaller defenders, as well as twist and turn with great agility to finish at the rim.
For a player as big as Okafor, you would expect for him to have a modest vertical. However, Okafor never displayed great in-game leaping ability, which perhaps led to him not participating in that portion of the testing at the NBA Combine. For a big man, Okafor handles the ball decently, showing the skill of finishing shots with both hands around the hoop. However, Okafor likes to go over his left shoulder more often than not, as he more comfortably finishes shots with his right hand.
There are a couple major concerns about Okafor heading into the NBA, despite his incredible offensive game. Defensively, he shows minimal effort in comparison to his effort on offense. He often gets bodied up, and beaten off the dribble and in the post, as he has shown he can be lazy through reaching or giving up cheap fouls and getting himself in trouble. Additionally, Okafor needs to rebound with better fundamentals. Currently, he uses only his height and long arms to corral the ball off the rim, but in the NBA, he must not get lazy while boxing out, and should practice getting himself in the right position so that he can continue to put up great rebounding numbers. In the NBA, everyone he is competing against down low will be his size, so he will get embarrassed if he does not show a willingness to improve that very important part of his game.
Since his offense is so advanced, and is rated as one of the top skill-sets coming out of the college game in recent memory, Okafor is slated to become a top 3 pick on Thursday night. What he does with all the hype surrounding him is ultimately his call, as he can either embrace how good he can potentially be, or throw the talent he’s been blessed with away and consistently underachieve as a professional. We will have to wait and see what happens down the line, as Okafor looks to realize his potential in the years to come.
NBA Draft Projection: Top 3 Pick