The top two players by most accounts in the upcoming NBA Draft are Karl-Anthony Towns out of Kentucky and Jahlil Okafor of Duke.
It’s hard to imagine the Minnesota Timberwolves (picking first) or the Los Angeles Lakers (picking second) being upset about their pick - whether it’s Karl Towns or Jahlil Okafor they can’t go wrong. Both Towns and Okafor possess skill-sets that translate well to the NBA and both are physically ready to contribute now for their respective teams.
The player drafted first really comes down to team need - Towns has a more dynamic game than Okafor in that he is able to step back and play the perimeter and has range out beyond the 3-point line while Okafor is a true low-post player with a plethora of NBA ready moves. Towns is very capable of operating in the post, he has shown a bevy of moves at his time at Kentucky and is the better of the 2 prospects on the defensive end.
Okafor is the better low-post player and rebounder but underrated in his ability to knock down the mid-range jumper, he has the ability and has worked on that shot during and after his time at Duke and will surprise some with that skill.
Both Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor impressed on the floor during their lone season in college with Towns averaging 10.3 points in just over 21 minutes a game and Okafor averaging 17.3 points in 30 minutes a game. Towns had the edge over Okafor in defensive stats averaging 2.3 blocks a game and a huge edge in free throw shooting percentage with Okafor only managing to shoot 51% from the charity stripe while Towns shot an impressive 81%.
It will be interesting to see which player is drafted where as there are pros and cons associated with each team.
Each team will have veteran leadership. The Timberwolves have acquired Kevin Garnett, a skilled big man with 19 years of experience and a championship. Garnett could perfect mentor for a rookie big man coming into the NBA. The Timberwolves also boast some exciting young talent in Zach LaVine and rookie of the year Andrew Wiggins. With all the talent the young Wolves are acquiring it is still hard to imagine they are going to be playoff ready for a number of years.
The Lakers have the ultimate competitor in Kobe Bryant who has played with some of the best big men in the game in Shaq, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. A healthy Kobe will be a great teacher of the game for the player that lands in the number 2 spot. The Lakers will also have a healthy Julius Randle at the power forward spot.
The Lakers are coming off of a disastrous year and there are plenty of unknowns - Yes Kobe Bryant will be healthy but will he be the same Kobe we are used to seeing.
In what will probably be his final year in the league will Kobe’s drive alone be enough for a miraculous turnaround in L.A.? The West is a loaded conference with a lot of up and coming teams and it will take a supreme effort by Kobe and crew to resurrect the Lakers.
No matter which player lands at 1 or at 2 there exists the opportunity to not only impact a team right away but also the chance to learn under veteran leadership.