After finishing last season with the League’s worst record (16-66), the Minnesota Timberwolves were the first team to pick in this year’s NBA draft, selecting center Karl-Anthony Towns from the Kentucky Wildcats. Towns (together with Jahlil Okafor) was the nation’s top prospect and it didn’t come as a surprise the Timberwolves chose him with their number one pick, as the 6’11’’ freshman is considered the player with the highest ceiling in this year’s draft. Offensively, Towns has exhibited a well-developed low-post game and remarkable ability to shoot tough for a big man during his only year at Kentucky, while he has been an excellent rim protector on the defensive end. Together with reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves have got two players to build the franchise around in the hope of making their way back into the playoffs after 11 seasons without post-season basketball.
The Los Angeles Lakers surprisingly picked D’Angelo Russell over the still-available Okafor as the second pick of the draft. The Lakers believe the Ohio State point guard can become their lead guard and possible franchise player for the next decade. From what we have seen in his only year at Ohio State, there is a lot to like about Russell. Listed at 6’5’’, he is a big point guard who has the ability to create his own shot, and his size will make him a mismatch for almost any point guard in the league (with the exception of Russell Westbrook). He is one of the better passers coming out of college in recent years and has proven to be a very good three-point shooter, making over 41% of his shots from behind the arc. With the selection of Russell as the number two pick in the draft, it is expected the Lakers will go all-in during this year’s off-season to acquire an All-Star calibre big man to strengthen their front line of Aldridge and Cousins.
With Jahlil Okafor still on the board, the Philadelphia 76ers had no other choice than to pick the 6’11’’ freshman from Duke. Okafor’s Blue Devils won the NCAA championship and the big man’s power play had a lot to do with it. Listed at 270 pounds, Okafor is a big center who, at 19 years old, already has the physique and the offensive skillset to play against the top big men in the league. In his only year at Duke, he proved unguardable every time he stepped on the floor. Simply too big and too skilful in the post, Okafor has shown to possess a huge arsenal of moves down low with his back to the basket, a trademark that will make him an offensive threat in the NBA from the outset. But the 76ers have some work to do to make their roster work. With Embiid and Nerlens Noel already on the team, they have plenty of talented big men to choose from, but it is improbable that we will see the two of them playing together on the floor. However, a talent like Okafor, who might have been an instant contributor for most teams in the league, was too much to decline.