Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns declare for 2015 NBA draft

Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns declare for 2015 NBA draft
Duke center Jahlil Okafor tries to block a shot by Michigan State guard Travis Trice last week. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

On Thursday, Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns declared for the 2015 NBA draft.

Okafor, the 19-year-old, 6-foot-11 center who helped the Blue Devils win the NCAA championship on Monday, averaged 17.3 points and 8.6 rebounds a game as a freshman.


Towns and the Wildcats had a perfect record before losing to the Wisconsin Badgers in the Final Four on Saturday to finish with a 38-1 record.

The Kentucky forward/center, also 19, averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots.

Whichever team lands the top overall pick in the draft will likely debate between Okafor and Towns.

Okafor is the more reliable low-post scorer, but his numbers are slightly inflated by his 30.1 minutes a night, compared with 21.1 a game for Towns.

Despite more time on the floor, Okafor averaged only 1.4 blocks a game.

Towns is the better defender and more versatile player, but Okafor's back-to-the-basket scoring is a dying art in the NBA.

The Lakers are slotted at fourth in May's NBA draft lottery, with an 82.8% chance of staying within the top five.  If the Lakers drop to six or seven, the Philadelphia 76ers will receive the pick, as part of the Lakers' Steve Nash trade with the Phoenix Suns.

There's a small chance the Lakers (20-58) could catch the Philadelphia 76ers (18-61) in the standings, but with the regular season ending on Wednesday, moving up in the lottery standings is unlikely.

At fourth, the Lakers will have an 11.9% chance of landing the top pick and 12.6% for the second. The combined odds of a top-two pick (24.5%) are higher than the 17.2% chance the team drops out of the top five altogether.

Others players will likely make their cases for a top selection, including Duke forward Justise Winslow and Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell.

Kentucky center and defensive ace Willie Cauley-Stein also declared on Thursday. Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who played overseas in China instead of collegiately, is also considered a top prospect.

The Lakers have a 13.3% chance of picking third, 9.9% fourth, 35.1% fifth, 16.0% sixth and just 1.2% seventh. The latter two translates to no pick, with Philadelphia getting the selection.

If the Lakers do keep their lottery pick in June, they will send their 2016 first-rounder to the 76ers -- this time with top-three protection.

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