Jahlil Okafor Breakdown

Jahlil Okafor, Duke
6’11 275

Overall Rank: #4

Strengths: Impeccable footwork, a wide array of post moves, pro body with length and strength, physically ready to contribute on offense, instant offense as a post up threat, decent mid-range shooter, high character individual

A clear testament to Okafor’s dedication and innate feel for the game is his effortless foot work in the post. He navigates the paint with grace and has a smoothness to his game that catches the eye and makes him so tough to defend. He’s comfortable turning over both shoulders on his drop set and shows a soft touch around the basket. Rarely do teams prioritize touches for a low post scorer nowadays but Okafor certainly gives you that option.

Weaknesses: Lack of long range shooting ability, defensive limitations, lapses in effort on defense, can be exposed as a poor pick and roll defender, lacks elite athleticism and explosiveness

The biggest knock on Okafor is that he only has value on the offensive end, and even there he is limited to post up production. He may be an elite back to the basket scorer, but with the direction the game is headed that skill continues to be devalued. Blessed with a 7’5 wingspan he has the length to disrupt passing lanes and challenge shots, however, due to his average lower body explosiveness he’ll never be a game changing shot blocker or elite lob finisher.

Bottom Line: The 6’11 275 lb freshman is a force on the offensive block possessing the dexterity and body control to create space for his shot out of several well executed post moves in his arsenal. In this respect Okafor is much more advanced than Towns and perhaps any incoming rookie but its the struggles on defense that makes him a one way player at the moment. Not only that but he rebounds at a lower rate (16.6% versus Towns’ 18.5% TRB%) and is a much more limited shooter (0 three pointers taken and 66.7% from the stripe). All that being said, Okafor can give you production from day, works hard off the court and has the physical traits to improve as a rebounder and low post defender.

STAT ATTACK:

BODY TYPE:

JO - BTOkafor has a pro ready body and edges Towns in terms of strength, power and wingspan. His athletic potential is limited, however, and for all the lateral agility he shows on offense he really struggles redirecting and staying in front of defenders and could be a major liability on pick and rolls.

OFFENSIVE USAGE:

JO - OUIn contrast to Towns, Okafor is an offensive force in terms of pure production. To produce more points requires more shots, which is clearly the case with JO. His overall efficiency suffered as is to be expected, but what stands out positively is his ability to draw fouls and therefore free throws at a high rate (.103 per possession). Normally those would be efficient shots, however, with his poor FT% of .510 that really mitigates the benefit.

SHOOTING:

JO - ShootingWhile not being able to stretch the floor Okafor does a masterful job generating clean, high percentage looks at the rim from post ups. It’s become an axiom in the analytics world that three’s, free throws and shots at the rim are the most efficient in basketball. Okafor is a non-factor from three, has a terrible free throw percentage but does get shots at the rim in bunches. Overall though his inability to stretch the floor or convert from the line will put a hard cap on his efficiency. The saving grace may be his footwork in the post and propensity to get his shot off cleanly around the basket seems to have transferred to the pro game.

REBOUNDING AND DEFENSE:

JO- RB & DOkafor actually hits the offensive glass at a slightly higher rate than Towns, but that’s likely a product of shooting more around the rim increasing the opportunity to rebound his own shot. His noticeably higher Defensive Rating (with D Rtg a lower score is better) is intuitive considering his poor defensive reputation but he does appear to be less foul prone.

Karl-Anthony Towns Breakdown

Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
6’11 250

Overall Rank: #1

Strengths: Gifted shot blocker, size and length with elite rebounding potential, terrific shooter with 3 point range, 81% free throw shooter, overall very few flaws

Towns has the ability to impact the game on offense and defense with a very diverse skill set for a freshman prospect. He has really made his mark on the defensive end blocking and altering shots at a breathtaking rate (11.5% Block Rate!). As a gifted shot blocker and proficient rebounder with the length to improve even further, Towns has the raw ability to dominate the low post. On offense the 6’11 250 pounder has good range for a big. Although he has limited post moves he does shows good touch and the vision to hit teammates for open jumpers or cuts to the basket.

Weaknesses: Lacks a refined low post game offensively, needs to add strength to his frame, could benefit from playing with more grit and fire, foul prone

Sure there are some minor imperfections here but overall Towns is a well-rounded prospect. He could certainly continue to hit the weights in order to handle the physicality of the NBA game. While showing some natural ability it will take some time before he becomes a true offensive threat on the block. The one clear advantage Okafor has over Towns is his footwork and variety of post moves on the offensive end although neither are elite athletes.

Bottom Line: Towns gets the nod over Okafor and Russell because he’s a rare low post asset who can affect the game in multiple ways. He edges them both in PER, Win Shares, Rebounding Rate and Free Throw Percentage. At the end of the day Towns checks off more boxes and affects the game on both ends. He has two coveted skills that when packaged together allow for rotational flexibility for a coaching staff and could yield an All-NBA level center: elite shot blocking ability and shooting range out to the three point line.

STAT ATTACK:

BODY TYPE:

KAT - BT“KAT” has a legitimate NBA frame that has room to grow stronger as he matures. Prototypical height and length with a solid build that will only be refined.

 

OFFENSIVE USAGE:

KAT - O UsageUsage wise, the data are pretty clear and intuitive. On a stacked Kentucky squad Towns was not asked to be an offensive juggernaut or even a go to player on that end of the court. For comparison Jahlil Okafor had a higher usage (USG% 27.6%, FGAPP 0.223) but was less efficient (PER 30.7, O Rtg 119.9).

 

SHOOTING:

KAT - ShootingDespite a lower eFG% and 2P% his range and pure shooting ability (FT% is a solid indicator) are excellent for a big with his level of defensive ability.

 

REBOUNDING AND DEFENSE:

KAT - RB & DA few things jump out here that succinctly illustrate his tremendous value and unique skill set. His ridiculous Defensive Rebounding Rate of 22.3% points to a prospect with elite rebounding potential. His Defensive Rating of 78.1 is in part due to his insane Block Rate of 11.5%! Think about that, he blocked an estimated 11.5% of the shots taken when he was on defense! Now that’s a rim protector.