Jahlil Okafor and the Draft
ACC Rookie and Player of the Year Jahlil Okafor has been nothing less than phenomenal this year for the Duke Blue Devils, averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds a game as a freshman. He’s been the name coming out of a lot of people’s mouth especially when the NBA Draft is being discussed. Despite not declaring if he will return to Duke after this season, many people see Okafor as the top prospect to be taken number one overall in the NBA Draft. With his big presence in the paint as a 6’11, 270-pound center, he has a great ability to score with his back to the basket and has a great touch around the rim. However, Jahlil’s lack of athleticism along with his struggles in guarding the pick and roll is where his weakness lies. In a league where everybody and their momma is athletic and every offense is driven by pick and roll, it will be interesting to see how he will be able to adapt.
With the New York Knicks currently as the worst team in the league, they will have the best shot at getting Okafor. I believe the Duke center could be a great fit in New York alongside Carmelo Anthony. Phil Jackson has had great experience with duo combos when you look back in time with Jordan/Pippen, Bryant/O’Neal, and Bryant/Gasol. If Jahlil Okafor can develop his game and Carmelo Anthony can get healthy, we may have something here in the Mecca of Basketball. Although Jackson has came out and stated that he was looking to rebuild through free agency, I don’t see there being a possible chance he passes on Okafor.
What can I say about Kentucky that hasn’t already been said? The Wildcats are FOR REAL! John Calipari and this entire program deserve a lot of credit for what they put together this season; 31-0 and still going, trying to come out undefeated on top of all of college basketball. After all of the flack Calipari received in previous years for only recruiting “one and done” players, it seems that most of his critics have their foot stuck in their mouth this year. How can you hate what they’re doing? Even if they don’t come out on top, you have to respect the season they’ve had and the way they’re playing. However, I don’t see many taking them down. Kentucky’s size in the middle is so intimidating for opponents. With four guys of at least 6’10, they have the paint on lock and many struggle to score against them. Offenses average a field goal percentage of 35.1% which is ranked 1st amongst all teams to go along with giving up the 3rd fewest points per game in the entire nation. This team screams DEFENSE.
Going forward, I see it hard for someone to knock this team down because even on a bad offensive night, they have the power and the length to stop teams defensively. If a team were going to beat them, I believe it would have to be a team like Wisconsin who has players in the post that can draw Kentucky’s bigs out of the paint to open up the middle. It’s all about match-ups in basketball as we know and a team that has post players that can shoot the outside ball could be Kentucky’s toughest matchup. Nevertheless, with the effort and intensity that Calipari has this team playing with; it will be an uphill battle for anybody to beat this team in my opinion. They are just that good!
The Month of March
For every basketball fan in the world, this is the greatest month of them all. March contains so much basketball that you can’t get enough of it. The final stretch of the NBA season begins as teams fight each other for playoff position to get closer to the Larry O’Brien trophy. At the collegiate level, the madness begins with each conference tournament starting off taking us into the big NCAA tournament.
I love this time of the year because there is so much you can learn from watching both levels. As a student of the game, it’s an enjoyment to watch basketball from 12 PM to 12 AM straight. It reminds me of the college days where you would take your laptop to class and act like you’re taking notes but you’r3 really watching the tournament. This is the time of the year where defense is played, big shots are made, upsets are destroying brackets and stars are born. Whether you’re 10 years old or 75, if you love this game, this is the time to stay tuned in.