Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball operations Flip Saunders still favors Duke's Jahlil Okafor over Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns with their first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Chad Ford of ESPN wrote in his latest mock draft.
Saunders' reported favoring of Okafor over Towns was first reported on the night of the draft lottery, with Saunders enamored of the polished post-ups and scoring ability of the former Blue Devil over Towns' athleticism and defensive upside.
This thinking runs contrary to both Ford's opinion and the popular opinion of most analysts that Towns is the superior prospect. For what it's worth, Ford does allow that Minnesota's big board rankings could change between now and the draft. This is what he had to say regarding the Timberwolves (Insider):
Virtually all the signals from sources inside the Wolves point to Jahlil Okafor being Flip Saunders' favorite right now. That obviously can change as we get closer to the draft. Workouts and interviews and lobbying from staff (I hear most of the rest of the staff favors Towns) could push Towns back atop. And after watching Towns' workout Monday, I believe that the Wolves will figure this out in favor of Towns. Towns has tremendous upside, no glaring weaknesses and he's a better fit in Minnesota, in my opinion, than Okafor. He has the highest ceiling of any player in the draft and I think his impact will come sooner rather than later. And do not totally discount here either. I am told Saunders is also a big fan and might be willing to move Ricky Rubio for the right deal.
Ford still has the Lakers selecting Okafor with their second overall selection, with the belief that although the Lakers are fans of both Emmanuel Mudiay and D'Angelo Russell, "at the end of the day, the size of Okafor will win out."
Both big men are certainly enticing prospects, and while Towns dazzled in his workout in front of scouts in Los Angeles on Monday, he has made it known he will not be working out privately for teams prior to the draft. The Lakers will begin the process of working out other lottery prospects next week as they begin their intensive pre-draft preparations in wake of the big day on June 25th.