The 2015 NBA draft is fast approaching. It is takes place on June 25th in New York City.
The question of the day is: Who is going to be the number one pick? Even though there are some very talented players in this year's draft, such as Emmanuel Mudiay, D'Angelo Russell, and Justice Winslow, the general consensus of most draft experts is that it's going to come down to the big goliaths in the middle, Jahlil Okafor of Duke and Karl Anthony Towns of Kentucky.
Therefore the question that we must answer is: who is better and who should be the number one pick.
According to most scouts, Duke's Okafor was considered the consensus number one pick during the regular college season, but Kentucky's Towns came on strong as the season went on. Most experts say that he may now be the number one pick. So, let's get down to who is the better player.
Okafor the Star
Okafor is listed at 6'11'' and 272 lbs with a 7'5" wingspan and a 9'1" standing reach. Both are long and tall centers. Okafor has the advantage on the offensive end, but not by a huge margin. He has a tremendous feel for the game of basketball. He has the size and girth needed to establish deep-post position, something that is missing in the NBA at this moment.
In addition, he has great footwork and does an excellent job of feeling out his defender and reacting instinctively, having all the counter-moves in the book and is capable of executing beautiful spin moves with superb body control, often using the glass.
Okafor draws a foul on over 18%of his post-possessions, according to Synergy Sports Technology. He is not a good free throw shooter however, converting only 51% of his foul shots. He's better as a finisher when receiving the ball with a head of steam off of cuts, pick-and-rolls, or running the floor in transition. He converted 79% of his shots around the rim in the half court and in non-post up situations, the top mark in the college game. His large hands allow him to palm the ball easily.
Defense is Okafor's Achilles heel for now. He isn't an explosive leaper, even though he jumps quickly. He typically looked lackadaisical on the defensive end, jogging back nonchalantly and looking lazy in stretches. According to some scouts, he gives up deep post position much too often.
He struggles stepping outside of the paint in pick and roll situations, showing poor awareness and being late to react on the fly, according to Jonathan Givony in a scouting report for draftexpress.
Towns, on the other hand, separates himself from Okafor as a prospect defensively. He has the size and strength to defend centers but also the length and mobility to contain most 4's, giving him terrific positional versatility that is highly sought after in the NBA. He has great shot-blocking ability (4.4 blks per-40 min.).
Towns covers ground nicely, being agile enough to hedge screens out to the perimeter and still make it back into the paint in time to make a play at the rim. He also rebounds well, grabbing 13 boards per 40 minutes.
Offensively, Towns is pretty good as well. He grew up as the season went on, taking over as Kentucky’s go-to scorer. Towns can hit the outside shot, all the way to the three point line. He has a picture perfect jump shot with a smooth, quick release. He can shoot the jump hook with either hand over either shoulder. He handles the ball very well and can take it to the rim with spin moves, hesitation dribbles and a good crossover.
His polished footwork in the post and an improving back to the basket game includes a baby hook shot, nice drop step, and an old school sky hook. He also is a top level passer who operates well out of the high post, who keeps the ball moving and has a nice feel for the game.
When it is all said and done Karl Anthony Towns is a slightly better player than Jahlil Okafor because of his advantage on the defensive end. For this reason he should be the number one pick in the NBA draft.