Could Jahlil Okafor Make The Minnesota Timberwolves a playoff team?


Could Jahlil Okafor make the Minnesota Timberwolves a playoff team? 

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Yep, Jahlil Okafor is the type of basketballer they designed that iconic video game around. He turbos up, and before you know it, springs toward the ceiling with cartoonish athleticism. 


So when you watch him play for Duke University, you can’t help but feel sorry for opponents. Some probably only play ball to take their minds off psych class. But Okafor is merciless. He’s bigger, stronger and has so many moves it simply can’t be the shoes. 

Duke’s star big man has said he’d be comfortable staying in college, which surely makes the family proud, but undoubtedly has some already distraught Minnesota fans howling at the moon.

That’s because, with just 11 wins this season, the T-Wolves will likely be in prime position to secure the No.1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, and the club’s fans must be gleefully rubbing their hands together at the prospect of Jahlil Okafor. Of course that might just be the cold. 

Indeed, the 19-year-old could be the most intriguing center we’ve seen in some time. Okafor’s combination of size, soft touch around the basket, neat footwork, powerful dunking and superb rebounding are just what the Wolves need to turn their fortunes around. Listen, I’m not a Minnesota fan, but I kind of hope they get him. If any team needs Okafor …

There are still some doubters out there, however. For example, a few have questioned Okafor’s lateral movement, and his ability to position himself on the defensive end, especially when it comes to handling screen and rolls, or boxing out for rebounds. They’re fair criticisms – if you want to scrutinize a young player who already does so many things well. I personally think we should cut Okafor some slack because the game footage I’ve seen tells me all I need to know.

Plus, he’s 6-11, which means that despite his massive potential, he’s going to have some shortcomings. I mean, there aren’t many 6-11 dudes around who can cover smaller and faster players working a pick and pop, or roll move. It’s relatively easy to harshly judge a big on his foot speed, isn’t it?

In time, he’ll develop better judgment on these plays anyway, and position himself to recover should he first move the wrong way, which has been the focus of some of the criticism.

I think he’s already pretty good at hustling back toward the hoop when a dribbler comes off a screen, and will make it hard enough for that player to get to the rim. He’s also adept at stepping to the baseline, to close down that route to the hoop. 

Most of the buzz around Jahlil Okafor though, is that he scores at will. I mean he’s catching lobs from the rafters and throwing them down; he’s backing defenders down and popping it over them with little hooks; and his put-backs can be spectacular – NBA Jam-like!

I also really like his presence. This is the type of player that opens up the floor for his teammates, and that’s an invaluable attribute to bring to the pro game. Minnesota’s young guns Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio, who can already unhinge a defense, would suddenly see new spaces and angles present themselves with Okafor in the mix.

Okafor’s just such a handful that not only does he scare the shorts off whoever is guarding him, he usually has one or two other defenders looking over their shoulders too. Those split-second looks are all a player like Rubio needs to capitalize. 

The Wolves are young and have speed, but perhaps lack an anchor to hold the squad together. Throw Jahlil Okafor into the pack, and the Wolves would surely be playoff bound. 

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