This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's June 22 eSports Issue. Subscribe today!
SCORE ONE FOR the scouts: Five years after Duke's Jahlil Okafor received his first college scholarship offer at 14, he's projected to be a top-two pick on June 25. But is he mobile enough to take the next leap? We asked an NBA scout to critique his game and had our Insiders, and the NCAA champion center himself, respond.
FG percentage 66.4
Okafor is as advanced offensively as any 19-year-old big I've seen. His post moves are not only the best in the draft, I think they're better than those of most NBA vets.1 He's not a great athlete, but he has pristine footwork and huge hands and can spin off either shoulder to finish at the basket.2 An underrated part of his game is his high basketball IQ.3 But he doesn't have a great perimeter game, and he plays below the rim.4 He's an average defender at best.5 And I worry about his conditioning.6 Ten years ago, he'd have been the No. 1 pick hands down, but the league has evolved, and the bigs who thrive are mobile, defend and can stretch a defense.7 But he's one of the best players in this draft. I'd be shocked if he doesn't average 20 ppg in the NBA. His offense is that special.8
1 Chad Ford, NBA Insider
Totally agree. I've sat with GMs and scouts and watched him do things where we just look at each other with our mouths wide open.
2 Jahlil Okafor
I'm 19 and improving every day, so saying I'm not a great athlete is crazy. I have three workouts a day to improve my skills.
It's clear how much work he's put in. Big men are lucky to have one go-to move when they get to the NBA. Okafor has four or five.
4 Kevin Pelton, NBA Insider
True. And here's another red flag: He shot 51 percent from the stripe. Among NBA players with 200 attempts last season, just five shot a lower percentage.
I don't concern myself with those who think I have deficiencies on defense. Who at my age is a fully developed player? You never know how someone can transform their speed, movements, quickness.
6 Amin Elhassan, NBA Insider, ex-scout
Being in a professional environment, eating healthy -- as opposed to cafeteria fare -- makes staying in shape easier.
Absolutely. I don't mind his lack of perimeter game, but the mobility and defense are huge question marks.