One of the main story lines surrounding this year’s NBA draft was which player should go number 1, Kentucky’s Karl Anthony Towns or Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. After having Lady Luck erred on the side of the Lakers and 76ers, NY wouldn’t have to worry about which top pick to build their franchise around because Towns and Okafor were sure to be gone. But what if the Knicks got one of those coveted spots? Who would the Zen Master entrust the future of the franchise to? Based on an interview he did with ESPN in January, whether he had one of the top picks or not, he probably wouldn’t have selected Jahlil Okafor.
At best, the Knicks would get the first pick and tab center Jahlil Okafor, although Jackson thinks he might not be aggressive enough. “Also, if you look at the guys who came to the NBA from Duke, aside from Grant Hill, which ones lived up to expectations?”
Some would say those are harsh words from Phil Jackson, but this is an argument that Duke fans have been trying to defend forever with little success, especially against their Tar Heel counterparts. Historically, he’s right. Duke NBA players have not been the superstars on the professional level that they were in college. But within the last few years that trend has started to change (see Kyrie Irving and soon to be Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor).
Don’t let Jackson fool y’all. The NBA draft is a matter of what ifs. What if Greg Oden or Sam Bowie weren’t injury prone or Adam Morrison and Kwame Brown lived up to the hype? There are more NBA busts than superstars and Duke player or not, with the potential he’s shown, Phil would’ve been a fool not to draft Okafor if he had the chance to…and he would have.
H/T: College Spun