Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns. Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor. The debate over which player should be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft focused on those two big men long before the Minnesota Timberwolves won the lottery last month. With three weeks left before the June 25 draft, another player may have entered the mix.
Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell is a special talent with size, skill and upside for days. Most mock drafts slot the freshman either third to the 76ers or fourth to the Knicks. That includes the latest from ESPN's Chad Ford, who sent Russell to Philadelphia, after slotting Towns to Minnesota and Okafor to the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, it's what Ford wrote about the Timberwolves' possible debate that led to this and other NBA Draft blog posts. Former Wizards coach Flip Saunders is Minnesota's coach and general manager
Karl-Anthony Towns is the No. 1-ranked player on my Big Board. However, virtually all the signals from sources inside the Wolves point to Jahlil Okafor being Flip Saunders' favorite right now. That obviously can change as we get closer to the draft. ...And after watching Towns' workout Monday, I believe that the Wolves will figure this out in favor of Towns. ... And do not totally discount D'Angelo Russell here either. I am told Saunders is also a big fan and might be willing to move Ricky Rubio for the right deal.
The Timberwolves already own a few intriguing pieces, most notably small forward Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. One thing missing is a true interior threat. Towns is the better prospect of the two centers, but Okafor is the superior offensive player. If Minnesota wants the kid from Duke over the freshman from Kentucky, few will raise eyebrows.
Many would if Russell is the call. Based on talent, those people might be wrong. Russell oozed production and potential during his lone season with the Buckeyes. However, even in this modern, perimeter shooting era, productive big men are a commodity and one tougher to find then guards.
It would indeed surprise if Minnesota goes small over big based on its current roster. Then again, when it comes to the draft, stranger things have happened.
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