NBA Draft Busts Series: Jahlil Okafor

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Jahlil Okafor and Captain America have something in common. They are both men that time forgot. The difference is the years were kinder to Steve Rogers. Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns headlined the 2015 NBA draft. He was the consensus number one selection and the Minnesota Timberwolves made the right choice. The next big man prospects were Jahlil Okafor and Kristaps Porzingis. The Philadelphia 76ers chose Okafor. Bad decision. Okafor ended up being one of the biggest NBA Draft Busts in history.

NBA Draft Busts: Jahlil Okafor

Okafor looked great in his rookie season. He averaged 17.5 points, seven rebounds, 1.2 blocks per game, and looked the part of a third overall pick. His highly touted post game in Duke translated to the professional level.

Health Concerns

Unfortunately, a knee injury cut his season short–a recurring theme to his career. Okafor would never come close to the heights of his rookie season again. In total, he played 247 games in his first six NBA seasons and only started in less than half of them.

Right Place. Wrong Time. 

Aside from injuries, the game was changing. Okafor’s skillset quickly got outdated. Teams were focusing more on outside shooting and spacing. Big men should be able to space the floor, run towards the rim, or play quality defense. Okafor could not do any of these things.

He is the textbook example of a player in the wrong era. Certainly, if he started his career in the early 2000s, he would have been an All-Star, especially with his solid size and footwork. Instead, Okafor has been bouncing around the league, playing bench minutes.

The Process

On top of these, it didn’t help that he was drafted by an organization that was shamelessly tanking and had a penchant for drafting bigs with high picks regardless of the fit. An injured Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel were already on the team.

Oddly enough, this squad also had Jerami Grant and Richaun Holmesplayers who would end up having more productive careers than Okafor.

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