People — many, but not all of them, Duke fans — have come at me on twitter when I wrote this, but it’s the truth:
Many teams likely near the top of the draft board are leaning toward Karl-Anthony Town over Jahlil Okafor if they get the top pick.
It’s not universal, and it’s no set in stone, but it’s the trend. Over at BasketballInsiders.com Jay Willaims (a Duke guy) lays out the arguments pretty well, while speaking to Alex Kennedy.
It all depends on what you need and it depends on the system in which you play. If the Knicks were to get the first pick and Phil Jackson has made it clear that they want to run the triangle and you already have a pillar in Carmelo Anthony who is a legit wing, it makes sense to take Jahlil Okafor because he is a old school center. If you’re a team like Minnesota, then maybe it makes sense to take a versatile four-five like Karl-Anthony Towns. It all depends on what you like.
I will note that speaking to Knicks season ticket holders recently, Phil Jackson’s comments suggested he was leaning toward Towns also. Mostly because he’s the better defender.
Okafor will be the better rookie — his footwork and polish with his back to the basket are better than 2/3 of the centers in the league right now. He will walk in day one and put up points.
But Towns is the better athlete, has a good inside game with room for it to improve, hits his free throws (which suggests a midrange game will come quickly for him, something Okafor lacks), and Towns is the better defender by far. Bottom like is people feel Towns will be the better player in three to five years. And if you’re smart, your drafting for the guy that’s the best in a few years after they developed more.
Nothing is set in stone, and it will come down to what team gets the pick and the system they run. That said, expect Towns to be the first named called by Adam Silver come late June.