Chad Ford Big Board 8.5
Towns takes over top spot while Winslow, Dekker climb after strong tourneys
The NCAA season recently ended, the Duke Blue Devils are the national champions and pre-draft tournaments have started.
A lot has happened since our Big Board update in March. NBA draft stock has risen and fallen thanks to a number of factors like injuries, league play and performance in both the conference and NCAA tournaments.
With the college season over, there is a bit of a draft lull. While the Nike Hoop Summit showcased several players in our Top 100, including China's Zhou Qi, Bosnia's Nedim Buza and Brazil's George de Paula, for most of these players, it's off to train in L.A., Las Vegas, Chicago and New York until the NBA draft combine in mid-May in Chicago.
Note: Underclassmen who have announced that they will not be in the 2015 NBA draft are not included on this Big Board.
NBA scouts came very close to getting the matchup they've pined for all season: Towns vs. Jahlil Okafor in the NCAA championship game. Alas, Kentucky fell to Wisconsin in the Final Four, meaning the next time we see these two go head-to-head will be in the NBA. Towns did just enough in the tournament, especially in a big game against Notre Dame, to push ahead of Okafor for the top spot on our Big Board. He's been making that push up the board for the past two months, with more and more NBA teams defecting from Okafor's bandwagon onto Towns'.
Now that the season is over, assuming Towns declares for the draft, he's got the edge over Okafor for the No. 1 pick. He's more athletic, a better rim-protector and a much better free throw shooter. Okafor is more polished offensively, but that's the only real edge he has right now. In virtually every scenario on our Lottery Mock Draft, Towns is now going No. 1.
Okafor's stock slid a bit this past month, despite the fact he and three other freshmen just led the Blue Devils to a national title. After a dominant first weekend, when he dropped 21 points on Robert Morris and 26 points on San Diego State, he cooled down considerably. He had 10 or fewer points in three of the Blue Devils' four final tourney games, including 10 points and just three rebounds in 22 minutes versus Frank Kaminsky and Wisconsin. Foul trouble plagued Okafor in the title game, but so did his inability to guard the quicker, more agile Kaminsky. He did hit two key buckets for Duke down the stretch, however.
But most of this tournament talk doesn't matter. Okafor is still the most polished offensive big man in the country. Towns has the distinct edge over Okafor for the No. 1 pick, but there are scenarios in which Okafor goes No. 1. He's unlikely to fall past No. 3.