With the second pick in the 2015 SB Nation NBA mock draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select Jahlil Okafor from Duke University.
From Silver Screen and Roll: Okafor may not be the on-paper fit that Karl-Anthony Towns would have been, but he's still an incredible catch for the Lakers who were on the brink of losing their top-five protected pick. Only one other player -- D'Angelo Russell -- was in actual consideration with this pick, but a chance to build a frontcourt with Okafor and Randle locked in is a great step toward a new era. Okafor's footwork, knack for scoring around the rim, athleticism and ability to pass out of the post should make him a focal point of the Lakers' offense as he continues developing.
The Lakers have been searching for a franchise big man and there's plenty of optimism that Jahlil will become that guy.
SB Nation Blogger Mock Draft
SB Nation's NBA Network conducted a mock draft with bloggers from each team site making or trading "their" team's pick. Here's a look at how things went down. <span class="m-entry-admin-button" data-remote-admin-entry-type="button" data-remote-admin-entry-id="8588200"></span>
Taylor: This was pretty much a no-brainer. This was similar to when Kevin Durant fell into the Sonics' lap. Will Okafor and the Lakers have the same results? Okafor definitely has the potential to be a franchise changing talent. He is the most NBA-ready player in this draft and has one of the best post games in years. However, he's a very old-school player. He bangs down low, but he doesn't have a lot of footwork and his jump shot needs work. He also doesn't rebound that well for someone his size and he seems to lack a strong desire to play defense.
Mitch: Yea, this is a no-brainer. I’m not sure how much success the Lakers will have in the 15-16 season, but the combo of Okafor and a healthy Julius Randle under the basket should be fun. This is a move and a pick that the Lakers need to make for the future, the post-Kobe years, not the now.
Kevin: If this isn’t an upgrade over the combo of Bob Sacre and Carlos Boozer. Okafor is going to be eaten alive on the defensive end by the likes of Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan and many other solid bigs in the Western Conference. He’s got the NBA body, he’s got the offensive game that is going to translate quickly to the NBA.
He learned a lot from his one year at Duke from Coach K, but sadly Duke players taken high in the draft usually end up having some sort of issue. Can Okafor break this?
Lucas: At 6’11" 272 pounds, Okafor was likely the most dominant force in college basketball last season, averaging 17.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Okafor is surprisingly polished for a big man his age, showing off an array of impressive post moves and footwork during his freshman season at Duke. Unlike Towns, Okafor is will likely be able to score consistently next season.
The concerns when it comes to Okafor are twofold: free throw shooting, and defense. Okafor was a poor free throw shooter last year, to put it nicely, knocking down only 51% of his attempts from the charity stripe. His free throw shooting is a legitimate concern assuming that the Lakers will look to Okafor as their number one option in the future. The second concern when it comes to Okafor is really two concerns, which is defense and upside. Although he averaged 1.4 blocks per games last season, Okafor often times got dominated physically in the post, showing a lack of interest in using his size to his advantage while playing defense in the post. He also lacks quickness, and struggled mightily while defending the pick and roll.
Okafor seems to be only an average NBA athlete, and may struggle at times against the like of more athletic big men, such as Deandre Jordan, Andre Drummond, and even fellow rookie Willie Cauley-Stein. I am not a huge fan of playing the comparison game, but Okafor really reminds me of Charlotte Hornets big man Al Jefferson. That may sound like an insult to Okafor, especially considering that many others have compared him to the likes of Tim Duncan. However, I believe this is a fair comparison, Jefferson possesses great footwork, loves to use his right hand, and is limited both athletically and defensively. It is great for Lakers fans to hope that Okafor turns out to be as dominant as Tim Duncan, but it may be more realistic to expect him to be reliable, but not great, like Al Jefferson.
Dontae: As much as Jahlil Okafor’s stock has taken a (somewhat) hit due to the soaring reputation of Towns, Jahlil was considered for the first overall pick for a reason. This pick gives the Lakers two studs at the power forward and center positions (with Julius Randle).
As much as the low post has become an antiquated ideal, Okafor with time can be the Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge-type of big that anchors the Lakers in the middle for the next decade. His defense is a concern, because he doesn’t have the dominate rim-protection you would like to see in your center, he's slow at moving his feet on defense, and he's not even an enforcer that gives defenders pause when attacking the rim; but he’s not a complete sieve by any means. He has long arms (7'6" wingspan) and hard work and technique can get you far in today’s NBA. The question is will he work at it enough for it to matter.
For now he can worry about throwing up double-doubles in Hollywood.