Duke's Jahlil Okafor works out for Lakers, who mull draft options

Duke's Jahlil Okafor works out for Lakers, who mull draft options
Duke's Jahlil Okafor warms up before a game against Pittsburgh on Jan. 19, 2015. (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the Lakers worked out freshman Duke center Jahlil Okafor, a strong possibility for the team's second overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

"When I first thought of the NBA, I always thought about the Lakers.  They have a winning tradition," he said. "That's what I want to be a part of."


"I'm coming from Duke University .... We have the winningest coach in college basketball," continued Okafor. "That entire atmosphere was about winning, and that's what the Lakers organization is about. That's something I want to be a part of."

Okafor, who helped bring the Blue Devils an NCAA championship in April, is a 6-foot-11, 19-year-old throwback. He'll enter the league with great size and a polished low-post game.

Okafor averaged 17.3 points a game last season on 66.4% shooting, along with 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

Okafor showed a reasonably consistent three-point shot late in his workout, but that's not what he expects to bring to the NBA.

"It's something I can do, but no, I know what my bread and butter is, and that's down in the post," he said. "I'm very confident on the offensive floor. I feel like I can score when there's one guy guarding me."

Okafor needs to develop as a defender, and improve at the free-throw line -- where he shot just 51% at Duke.

"I think I'm getting better on both sides of the ball. That is a criticism but we won a national championship at Duke," said Okafor. "Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] was fine with how I played defense."

Okafor also noted that he's working steadily on his free-throw shooting, blaming himself for a Duke loss against Notre Dame because of his struggles at the line.

The Minnesota Timberwolves own the first selection in the June 25 draft. They'll probably choose from between Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns and Okafor, although Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell could be a dark horse. The Lakers have yet to audition Towns, but have looked at Russell and point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who played in China last season.

"I haven't spoken with Minnesota, I'll speak with them sometime this week," said Okafor.

The Lakers are likely to take whichever big man the Wolves pass on.

Towns has more versatility and greater defensive acumen, but Okafor's offensive game is special.

The Lakers' front office staff dined with Okafor on Monday night.

"I enjoyed it a lot. It was a lot of fun sitting down with all those guys," Okafor said. "Tonight I'm going to dinner with the coaches, so I'm excited for that."


Okafor could be a franchise-changing player, a significant reward after the Lakers' 21-61 season.

"I've always won. I won the state championship, national championship, gold medals, all that," he said. "I would love to come here and have the opportunity to win an NBA championship."

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