NBA prospect Jahlil Okafor has hit back at critics of his defensive ability and insisted that in time it will improve along with the rest of his game.
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Okafor is potentially set to be selected with the first overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves at the NBA Draft 2015 on June 25, but if the ‘Wolves opt to go elsewhere then he will come under consideration by the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, there have been suggestions this past week that both teams could be set to cause a shock by possibly considering D’Angelo Russell instead.
The latest Draft class is under heavy scrutiny ahead of the biggest night of their careers so far, and Okafor has particularly caught a lot of criticism over his defense.
While his Duke coaches will argue that they didn’t ask much from him on that end of the court as they couldn’t afford to lose his offense if he got into foul trouble, many believe that he is much better than what we’ve seen so far.
However, Okafor was keen to stress that he is still young and is confident that over time and with more experience he will become better in all aspects but will look to improve his defensive abilities.
“I know I’m going to get better. I can get better at everything I do, and I always improve. I don’t think my defense was as bad as people made it out to be. We did win a national championship and all of my coaches were extremely happy with the way that I played on both ends of the floor. Also, I couldn’t get in to foul trouble and with the way our defense was set up, I wasn’t really in rim-protecting situations,” Okafor said, as quoted by Pro Basketball Talk.
“Honestly, that is one of my flaws that I can improve on, but I can also improve on the offense end. Luckily, I’m 19 years old and I think I have a lot of time to improve my game. I think a lot of people forget that a lot of us are still 18 or 19 years old. We’re put under the microscope and expected to be perfect, on the floor and sometimes even off the floor. Oftentimes, I do think people forget how young we actually are.”
Given that he is still just 19, it is way too early to suggest that he is a defensive liability and he will undoubtedly work on that area of his game moving forward. Overall, there’s no doubt that he will a force in the NBA with whichever team chooses to draft him and he will only get better if he continues to work hard.