Patrick Causey, on Twitter @PhillySportsJD
I chose not to do a scouting report on Jahlil Okafor before the draft because it seemed unlikely the Philadelphia 76ers would even have a chance at drafting him.
Boy, was I wrong.
Okafor's fall to the number three pick seemed impossible just six months ago. He was the consensus number one pick in this class since his freshman year in high school. And he won at every level along the process. But despite the success, Okafor became subject to the magnifying glass that is the NBA Draft process, and his draft stock tumbled, slightly, because of perceived holes in his game.
Some of the criticisms of Okafor's game were legitimate: Okafor's defense is subpar -- at times -- and his free throw shooting is a major liability. This only reinforced the perception that Okafor -- known as an old soul in his own right -- would have been better suited for the NBA 20 years ago than today's game, which is predicated on floor spacing, three point shooting and rim protection.
But some of the criticisms were a byproduct of Okafor being on top too long. Just ask Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins, like Okafor, was the consensus number one prospect in his draft class for years. Eventually, scouts started to pick Wiggins' game apart and question whether he would ever be a transcendent star in the NBA.
Had Joel Embiid not broken his foot in the month leading up to the draft, Wiggins likely would have went to the Sixers #3 overall behind Embiid and Jabari Parker. (Which sets up one of the more intriguing what-ifs over the next few years: if Embiid never got hurt, how good could Wiggins and Okafor have been as teammates on the Sixers?). Wiggins brushed off the criticisms and doubt en route to winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award in Minnesota while averaging 16.9 ppg, 4.6 rbg, and 2.1 apg.
The same fatigue seems to have befallen Okafor this year. With every new scouting report that emerged since February, it seemed that teams were looking for reasons not to draft Okafor instead of focusing on his positives.
So did the Sixers get the generational talent that has so often been compared to a young Tim Duncan? Or did they get a defensively challenged miscast for today's NBA that is destined to be a failure? Let's break it down further.