The NBA season wrapped up with the Golden State Warriors celebrating a championship, and the focus for the basketball world is now fully-shifted over to the NBA Draft on June 25. ESPN's Chad Ford released his latest mock draft and Duke big man Jahlil Okafor is projected to the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2 once again. Okafor has been the "mock" pick for Los Angeles in each of Ford's updates since the lottery, and with a week out, it seems like a foregone conclusion.
The Lakers have been exploring their options, as Mitch Kupchak has repeatedly said they would. The front office has been upfront about wanting to scout every option leading up to the big night, and their focus on stock-surger Kristaps Porzingis could be seen as due diligence more than an indication that they're leaning his way. Russell and Okafor are still considered the top-two players the team is considering.
Los Angeles also feels landing a franchise big man will be more difficult than finding backcourt talent, which could be one of the many reason Okafor is the pick at No. 2. This is what Ford had to say about the latest buzz surrounding the second overall selection, via ESPN Insider:
While neither player necessarily wowed in the workout (Russell was fighting a bug and Okafor struggled a bit with the pace of the workout), neither hurt or separated himself, I'm told. Mudiay also came in for a workout, and while he was impressive in many areas, he didn't shoot the ball as well as he did in other workouts. The Lakers also traveled to Vegas to see Porzingis work out and they interviewed him afterward. They were impressed, but I'm told it's doubtful they'd select him over Okafor or Russell. There are arguments for both players, but I'm told the Lakers fear that getting a quality center via free agency or trade will be much harder than getting a scoring guard. Advantage: Okafor.
Okafor may have "struggled a bit" during his workout with the Lakers, but both sides seemed keen on the idea of coming together on June 25. The wait is almost over.