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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The waiting game begins

Yesterday, the NBA regular season ended. Sixteen teams will begin the playoffs and the other 14 will enter the NBA Draft Lottery. Here is a look at the rookie class of the 2015-2016 season.

The top two players of this year’s draft are widely thought to be two big men who competed in this year’s Final Four.In a league where guard play has become an essential aspect of an elite team, it is interesting that two centers will likely be drafted in the top two slots of the draft. Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor are nonetheless the two best and NBA-ready players in this year’s field. Towns is an incredibly athletic big man who was a force on the defensive end for the Kentucky Wildcats this past season, while also showcasing his post presence.Okafor, however, is the more skilled offensive player, averaging 17.7 points per game in his only season at Duke.Who goes to which team is still up in the air, and the teams in contention for the consensus top two picks will not be set until the NBA Draft Lottery.There are three teams in contention: the Timberwolves, the Knicks and the 76ers.

The team with the worst record in the league owns a 25 percent chance at the top pick, followed by 19.9 percent and 15.6 percent for the second- and third-worst, respectively. As of now, the Wolves have the worst record in the league at 16-65. The Knicks, much to the dismay of their fans, have won three of their past five games, including a win against the Hawks, the best team in the East, to move into the second-to-last place position in the league with a record of 17-64. The 76ers have a record of 18-63. Even though all 14 teams in the lottery technically have a chance at the number one pick, I’m just going to assume it will be one of these three teams.

If the Timberwolves own the top pick, I believe they should take Okafor. He is the more proven offensive weapon and boasts excellent footwork and basketball IQ. He could fit very well with last year’s number one pick, Andrew Wiggins, and explosive leaper Zach LaVine. Minnesota has an array of young talent in Anthony Bennett, Adreian Payne and Ricky Rubio, as well as a veteran leader in Kevin Garnett. Okafor would add much-needed offense to a roster that has averaged only 97.6 points per game, bad enough for 23rd in the league.

In terms of the Knicks, the clear choice is Towns. He is dominant on the defensive end, and although he is a bit raw offensively, he has the most upside of anyone in the draft. Sound familiar from another Kentucky big man from the 2012 draft? The Knicks need to add assets for the future, and Towns is the biggest of them all in this draft. He also will help tremendously on defense on a team that allowed 101.1 points per game this season, which was bad enough for 20th in the league.

For the 76ers, they actually do not need big men after acquiring Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid in the past two drafts. Therefore, I propose they either draft D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay.Both are attack-minded guards that can score and manage an offense. Russell did it at Ohio State, leading a roster virtually bereft of talent to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Mudiay elected to play in China instead of at SMU and has the raw talent to become a star, despite the fact that his jumper needs work.

Overall, there is talent and upside at the top of this draft class, and we will know more when the lottery occurs.