As you can tell from my Avatar, I’m no genius. Heck, that’s me actually trying to look smart.
But after watching last night’s Epic Battle of Rookie Big Men, featuring Jahlil Okafor vs. Karl-Anthony Towns, I do feel like I got one thing right: It is indeed Jah, and not KAT, who should have been the number one pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Can you honestly and fairly say that after one game between the two?
I say yes, and the stats are only part of the story. Okafor finished with 25 points, 12 boards and two blocks and absolutely manhandled Towns the whole game, in which the Wolves topped the Sixers 100-95. Towns had six points, two boards and two blocks in 17 minutes. In fact, Towns barely got off the bench after Okafor out-positioned him for a rebound and forced Towns to commit his fourth foul before the end of the first half.
For the season, Towns has arguably better stats. But with Okafor, it’s not just the stats that he gets, it’s how he gets them. He gets them without a real point guard, and without any great shooters to help open up the paint. He gets them looking like Tim Duncan Jr., whether its gracefully sweeping the lane for a lay-in with some dandy big-man footwork, denying a Towns’ shot with some uncharacteristic anger or pulling up and nailing a 15-footer at will.
Some say this is Okafor’s ceiling. They say he’s a 20-10 guy, and is only getting that because he’s on one of the worst teams in NBA history. I’m not so sure about that. I think he’d be getting better stats with better guys around him, and therefore I’m not so sure that this is his ceiling.
As for Towns? This is definitely not his ceiling. This is Andrew Wiggins‘ team right now, so he has time to develop, which is scary.
Still, despite the Wolves getting the win, Round 1 of this battle goes to Okafor. Round 2 will be January 4, 2016 in Philly.
Here’s some other B-N-B studs and duds from the past week:
Jared Sullinger – When he sits around the TD Garden, he really sits around the TD Garden. He’s fat, shamone! But when gets around 30 minutes, Sully is pretty much a mortal lock for double digit boards. Thirty minutes Sunday night in Brooklyn = 10 boards. Thirty-plus minutes against the Mavs at home last week = 12 boards, to go along with 18 points. Not many blocks, but hey, when you’ve got moobs like Sully, it ain’t so easy to get up and down.
Frank Kaminsky – Now, I’m not suggesting you run out and pick up Frank the Tank. But I am saying to watch this guy, especially in deeper leagues, because he is capable of getting you Big Man stats by accident. The last few games he’s been getting some run, son, and when he does he’ll get you a handful of rebounds and 1-2 blocks per game. Hornets coach Steve Clifford the Big Red Dog seems to think he can guard small and big forwards, which to me is code for “I’m comfortable sticking Frank out there and having him guard the worst player on the floor.” Really, he should be averaging at least 7-8 rpg.
Festus Ezeli – How appropriate in Oaktown: Can’t touch him or Andrew Bogut in fantasy as long as Kerr is doing some kind of timeshare action at the center position. But when he’s in there for 20-plus minutes, he blocks a significant amount of shots, as he did during a three-game run last week when he racked up 2.6 bpg.
Nikola Jokic – In every game where he’s played 18 minutes or less, he’s done next to nothing, and only scored double digits once (November 9 vs. Portland). In the two games where he played big minutes, something very different occurred. On November 18, he played 31 minutes in a loss to the Spurs and scored 23 points on 8-13 shooting to go with 12 boards and three blocks. And on Sunday, his first start of the year, he put up another double-double in 27 minutes of work, posting an 11-11-1. Why is this important? Because coach Mike Malone is talking about Jokic like he’s a pet Doberman, saying he’s going to let him run a lot. Hope he gets some bacon-flavored Beggin’ Strips after his big runs! It’s also important because with J.J. Hickson behind him, it appears the starting gig could be Jokic’s for good. Again, I’m no wizard of the hardwood, but why would this guy only be 21 percent owned in Yahoo leagues? Get on it peoples!
Hassan Whiteside – If I hadn’t made Whiteside the lead a few weeks back, he’d be the lead today. Over the past week, he averaged 7.3 blocks per game. Not rebounds per game. Not 7.3 blocks total. HE SWATTED MORE THAN 7.3 BLOCKS PER GAME, including a rare triple double of 10 blocks, 22 points, and 14 rebounds against the Timberwolves last Friday and eight blocks last weekend against the Sixers. Move over, Mutombo: Who wants to sex Whiteside?
DeAndre Jordan – Channeling Louis C.K. … Of course, if you’re a Jordan owner you’re happy. He’s averaging 13 boards and 2.8 blocks per game. Of course you’re happy! … But maybe, you’re not happy, because he’s two rebounds down from last year’s average, and he just hasn’t been putting up the same kind of dominating games that, say, Whiteside has been putting up.
Al-Farouq Aminu – Donald Trump’s least-favorite player had also kind of been on fantasy owners’ doo-doo lists until the last week or so, when he put up lines of 16-15-1 at Houston and 10-12-2 at home against the Clippers. However, he followed that up with a back-to-normal 10-6-1 against the Lakers. It appears Aminu is just a better real-life player than a fantasy player, and not to be relied on for regular numbers.
Rajon Rondo – Almost messed around and got himself not one but two triple doubles last week, got seven more boards against the Magic last weekend and eight last night in a wild loss to the Hornets in which he also handed out 20 dimes. This is great for fantasy owners, but his real-life Kings is still more than a little meh, racking up a 5-10 record. MVP! MVP!
Tristan Thompson – Been beasting out on the boards a little bit of late, dropping a 12-11 against the Bucks and then a 9-16-2 against the Hawks over the weekend. Last night at home versus the Magic, he grabbed 14 boards.
Ian Mahinmi – I’ve heard calls to drop Mahinmi off the end of whatever fantasy rosters he’s on, but I’m liking his solid recent rebounding numbers. He’s averaging almost 9 rpg over his last four, and more than a block-and-a-half over his last three. Keep your eagle eye on him and pounce when you see a double-double.
Taj Gibson – Has had double-digit boards only two times all year, and is down more than a rebound per game in six fewer minutes per game. It feels like he’s done nothing to regress other than to be put on the court of less time. The Bulls do seem to play better when he plays more, so we’ll see if Fred Hoiberg uses his oddly shaped noggin.