2015 NBA Draft Scouting Report: Jahlil Okafor by Austin PetersHow would Karl-Anthony Towns fit with the Minnesota Timberwolves? Towns didn’t separate himself much over the first couple of months but soon developed into the team’s top option on offense. Towns surpassed Jahlil Okafor as the best prospect in this year’s draft in most people’s minds with his last two appearances in the NCAA tournament, when he scored 41 points on 24 shots against Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Kentucky ran a really nice set in the first play of the game against Notre Dame, when Towns got the ball in the high post and hit Lyles with a perfect alley-oop at the rim, freed by a weak-side screen from Cauley-Stein. It’s unclear if Towns will be the sort of shot creator from the post in the NBA that he was at Kentucky, though.
There are anecdotes of how he’s looked shooting the ball from deep in practices and workouts, but there is no substantial video of him in a competitive setting demonstrating what kind of shooter he is — someone capable of spotting up in the corner, shooting on the move and working out of the pick-and-pop? Towns converted 81.7 percent of his 131 free throws, which tends to be an indicator of potential outside shot development. But because of his leaping ability and soft hands, Towns projects to be a constant threat running at the rim if he gets to play in an offense that gives him those chances.
However, the best evidence we have of Towns’ athleticism is from his work on the offensive glass.
Due his size, mobility and rim protection skills, Towns is expected to develop into a high end pick-and-roll defender with some good coaching.
He looked comfortable defending in space, showing-and-recovering in control against Texas and flashing necessary closing speed to effectively contest shots on the perimeter against Louisville. Towns back-pedalled well to challenge Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson when they turned the corner and attacked the rim, but missed Auguste getting behind him a few times, resulting in easy scores at the rim. Against Wisconsin, Towns was tasked with defending Kaminsky and failed to closeout in time on a couple of 3-point attempts. Towns does have decent lateral mobility for someone his size and a long wingspan that gives him some margin of error to not necessarily stay attached yet still contest a mid-range jump-shot effectively.
If Towns does indeed become a guy who can space the floor while also keeping the opponent from going small against him, he’ll burn them by scoring or assisting cutters and shooters from the post.
As a 7-footer who can protect the rim and rebound in volume, Towns is almost assured to be of value even if his scoring doesn’t translate and he’s not put in a position to make full use of his passing. Also, if he doesn’t grow out of being in constant foul trouble, that could certainly minimize his impact. According to several reports, Towns has only worked out for the Timberwolves and expects to be drafted first. In Minnesota, Towns would spend most of his time in lineups with other true centers like Nikola Pekovic or Gorgui Dieng. With Ricky Rubio at the point, Wiggins on the wing and Towns at center, it wouldn’t take Minnesota long to develop a top five defense. However, based on how the Timberwolves played last season, I think there’s still a chance Saunders surprises everyone and drafts Okafor.
Floor spacing seems like such a foreign concept to Scott that he played Ryan Kelly as a wing last season.
He showed that he’s mature off the court as well, when he was given the opportunity to represent the Wolves at the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday. He enjoys eating good food, drinking craft beer and making original, compelling stories go viral. Nike released its 30th iteration of the iconic Michael Jordan shoe line on Thursday, the Air Jordan XXX. Skal Labissiere has had an eventful path on the way to becoming a college freshman and NBA Draft prospect.
By August of that year, he was in Memphis under the guardianship of the notorious Gerald Hamilton. His lack of strength also manifests itself on the boards, where Labissiere struggles to hold position against Kentucky’s opponents and is consistently unable to confidently grab rebounds. Labissiere’s size is a problem that should become less of an issue as he matures and gains access to training staffs that can provide him adequate strength building routines and eating plans.


Beachem (3) looks on during the first half in the finals of the midwest regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. He was one of the very few players entering college basketball with pro experience after spending the previous summers with the Dominican Republic national team (coached by John Calipari), where he had the opportunity to practice against an NBA All-Star in Al Horford. By the season’s end, he logged 822 minutes in 39 games, many against elite competition such as Cliff Alexander, Myles Turner, Cameron Ridley, Kennedy Meeks, Montrezl Harrell and Frank Kaminsky. Part of that had to do with the unimaginative style of play installed by Calipari, but also because no defender in college basketball could keep him from getting to his spots and getting a quality shot off. Catching the ball so close to the basket is part of the reason why he was such an effective post scorer at the collegiate level, averaging 0.92 point per possession on what amounted to 43 percent of his offense, according to Draft Express.
Kentucky rarely gave him flex screens to occupy his defender while he moved towards the block.
He spent the majority of his minutes in lineups with two non-shooters (Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles) and two capable but not particularly good shooters (Harrison twins). He proved to be a willing passer, utilizing his high vantage point to see over the top of double teams and soft hands to deliver on target. It’s the sort of play that suggests Towns could be an asset facilitating offense from the elbows, something that we’re likely to see more teams seeking after the Spurs and the Warriors won the last two titles having big men who were capable of doing just that. His passing and court vision will likely translate depending on his ability to command double teams, which hinges on whether or not he develops counter moves. Towns should be able to establish deep position in the NBA, too, but every defender will be aware of his over-reliance on power moves to get his scoring.
According to the New York Times, he hit 127 three-point shots in three seasons at Saint Joseph High School. In his limited jump-shot attempts, he’s looked like a capable open-shot shooter with solid mechanics, elevating up-and-down, keeping his guide hand pointed up, flicking his wrist naturally and following through.
He can sprint up the court to fill the lane in transition and play above the rim as a target for lobs. Midway through the second half at Louisiana State, for example, he caught the ball out of the pick-and-roll and lobbed a pass to Cauley-Stein at the rim when three opponents converged on him. Towns collected 14.2 percent of Kentucky’s misses when he was on the floor, which ranked him second in the SEC.
He’s aggressive looking to make plays at the rim as a shot blocker, which sometimes comes at the expense of boxing out his opponent. He uses his 9-1 standing reach to protect the basket with guards running at him, averaging 4.3 blocks per 40 minutes. There were flashes of that potential at Kentucky but he was mostly so-so when pushed by impact players.
On one occasion, he stayed with the guard driving all the way to the elbow on the pick-and-pop and wasn’t explosive enough to run back and contest Kaminsky taking a 25-footer. But he’s probably not suited to defend smaller players on switches since the sudden change of direction just isn’t there.
Towns will, essentially, be an offense all to himself, all the while protecting the rim on the other end. Based on how the team played last season, he would probably be used the same way he was at Kentucky, with most of his usage coming out of the low post. Many believe Towns to be a fit playing with another big, since he’s expected to become a threat from the outside. A native of Haiti, Labissiere was a victim of the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince where a then 13-year-old Skal and his family resided. Hamilton would later be the subject of much scrutiny after allegedly asking an AAU coach how to profit off of a basketball player. There have been moments, brief glimpses of the potential that made him the top prospect in the country according to some recruiting services.
Labissiere is a project and the skill set that made him a highly touted recruit has yet to translate at the collegiate level, especially against quality competition. He’s already added some size in Lexington, which is something that should continue throughout the season. This fact is obvious watching Labissiere play defense, where he struggles with rotations and staying out of foul trouble.


Against LSU, Labissiere simply followed the basketball while Aaron Epps found his way out to the 3-point line for a wide open look. He’s an athletic, skilled big man who has shown the ability to play in pick-and-pop situations. It’s easy to dismiss him looking so dominant against Notre Dame because Zach Auguste was just so much smaller, but Towns scored fairly well against NBA-caliber prospects such as Kaminsky, Turner, Alexander and Harrell. There was also never any primary action to move the ball from side-to-side and bend the defense. As far as those counters go, he’ll need a lot of work to develop the footwork Okafor already has, but many expect him to add a fade-away, turnaround jump-shot to his arsenal fairly soon. But he did not show his range at Kentucky, taking just eight shots from beyond the arc and 28 jump-shots total in his 39 appearances. Unfortunately, we did not see him dive down the lane with momentum and catch the ball on the move out of the pick-and-roll much because Kentucky seemed allergic to the set that has become the heart of every NBA offense. He enters the league as an elite passer for someone his size and age, who rebounds in volume on both ends and protects the rim.
Even so, I feel like the floor spacing he provides would be best maximized if he played center, especially considering how invested in posting up Andrew Wiggins and Shabbaz Muhammad Saunders was last season.
Working in the Lakers’ favor, though, is the pairing with Julius Randle, who is a more natural fit alongside Towns than Okafor. As Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn explains, Labissiere was trapped under a fallen wall for hours before being dug out by his father. They also make it more difficult for Skal to stay on the floor – he is committing 6.8 fouls per 40 minutes.
His slow reaction times are most noticeable when he’s put into a situation that requires a quick decision. The thing that Labissiere needs more than anything is time — minutes against quality competition, hours in the weight room and weeks to build out the learned instincts that he missed out on for two years of high school. Labissiere is a great option to play the stretch four in the NBA, he just needs to be given the time and situation that allow him to show it. The downside was turning it over on almost 18 percent of his possessions with his back to the basket.
Towns can rebound outside of his area due to his 7-3 wingspan and has a lot of strength in his 250-pound frame to fight for 50-50 balls. Towns will tangle arms with the opponent from time-to-time rather than back him out of his rebounding area, but he consistently looks to establish inside position.
He’s sometimes in a hurry to leave his feet, which makes him prone to getting beat by up-and-under moves and vulnerable to fouling. That alone would be enough for him to be the top prospect, but the idea that he might also become a legit scorer from the post and 3-point range makes him a walking video game.
Versus Alabama, he switched onto Retin Obasohan in the pick-and-roll and blocked the guard’s shot attempt at the rim. A stress fracture in his back limited his playing time significantly during his junior year of high school and a ruling from the Tennessee School Sports Athletic Association kept him from playing much high-level basketball during his senior season. For example, when Labissiere catches the ball in a spot where he should quickly put up a shot, he often stops to gather it and brings it below his waist. He has great leaping ability for someone his size and sound instincts tracking the ball off the rim, collecting 22.8 percent of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor, which also ranked second in the SEC.
Kentucky lists him at 225 pounds, nine pounds heavier than he weighed at the 2015 Hoop Summit.
Coaches and fan bases are impatient, they want wins now and, even more importantly, in March. His lanky frame combined with the fact that head coach John Calipari has asked him to play a role similar to the one Karl-Anthony Towns thrived in last season has made it difficult for Labissiere to succeed offensively, where he’s often unable to get post position against larger defenders.



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