Jahlil Okafor, Duke
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.
Okafor 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.
In 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.
While 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:
Okafor 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.