Jahlil Okafor says he would 'love' to be a Laker, works out for LA
Jahlil Okafor worked out in front of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball operations department and coaching staff Tuesday morning. The Duke product led the Blue Devils to the National Championship in his freshman season while averaging 17.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and an absurd PER of 31. Okafor is the first big man the Lakers have publicly worked out that is a candidate for the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft after the team previously worked out guards Emmanuel Mudiay and D'Angelo Russell over the past few days.
The Lakers are reportedly leaning towards selecting either Okafor or Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns in the draft, and while Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said the team would not take a big just for the sake of taking a big. this was the first time the team got an up close and personal look at one of the two freshman phenoms. After working out, Okafor spoke to the media and did not disappoint.
Okafor said that he would "love" to be a Laker. and also mentioned that the Lakers' tradition is "something I want to be a part of." Okafor also re-iterated that "being the No. 1 pick isn't that important to me" and that analysts and fans should not be concerned over his fit alongside the Lakers' most recent lottery pick, Julius Randle. "I think we'd do well together. He's a great athlete and he's very versatile and talented. I think me and him would do great." Okafor would also be excited to be teammates with
another Laker who has been with the team just a little longer than Randle:
Okafor said he'd love to talk to Kobe and pick his brain: "He's one of the greatest to ever do it."
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) June 9, 2015
Those who watched Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times' Periscope live stream of the workout also saw Okafor, who has been mostly hyped as a pure low-post scorer, knock down a few three-pointers. But Okafor has not fallen too in love with his jumper, telling reporters "I know what my bread and butter is, and that's down in the post."
Kupchak was impressed with what he saw from Okafor. "Offensively, what he does will translate quickly to the NBA," he told reporters. But it was not exclusively praise from the Lakers GM, Mitch mentioned if he was forced to point out a hole in Okafor's skillset, it would be his "defensive presence." Kupchak, a University of North Carolina alumnus, also joked he would try not to hold Okafor's season at Duke against him but that it was "not a plus" in his resume.
As far as who will make the final call on which player the Lakers select on June 25th. "It doesn't have to be a consensus. It's my decision, with the support of ownership," said Kupchak.
Okafor dined with the basketball operations department on Monday night, and will do the same with coaching staff Tuesday as the Lakers continue getting to know a player who could potentially wear purple and gold for a long time.
*Quotes transcribed via Eric Pincus' live steam