Less than 24 hours after winning the NBA Draft Lottery, Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders was on KFAN raving about the two players being tied to the No. 1 pick – Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke's Jahlil Okafor.
Saunders noted that Towns is the best defensive post player in the draft and a solid two-way big man. He then said Okafor has the best footwork for a big man entering the NBA since Tim Duncan joined the Spurs in 1997.
Saunders isn't the first to compare Okafor to Duncan. NBA hall of famer David Robinson, who played six season with Duncan in San Antonio, made the same comparison.
In an interview with the New York Post in Janauary, Okafor said he is humbled by the lofty comparison. But his coaches don't think the comparison is that far off.
“If you compare them as freshman — just as freshman — ‘Jah’ is a lot better offensively,” said Jeff Capel, Duke's assistant coach who played against Duncan in college.
Compared to Towns, Okafor is the better player right now, according to a column in USA Today.
Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for Duke as a true freshman. Towns, also a true freshman, averaged 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds for Kentucky.
While Towns is said to have an "enormously high" ceiling, Okafor has been downgraded by many for an apparent lack of explosiveness and quickness. USA Today says he's lost 12 pounds since winning the national championship in an effort to debunk the criticism.
Whether it's Towns or Okafor or someone else like Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell, the Wolves have nearly six weeks to get the pick right.