How the 2015 NBA Draft can Change the NBA.

Many NBA franchises have previously believed to be truly successful and build a dynasty there needs to be a dominant center. Men such as Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Shaquille O’Neal were all centerpieces of multiple championship runs. The concept on how to build a perennial champion in the NBA started to evolve with the onset of shooting guard Michael Jordan winning 6 NBA championships in Chicago. Since O’Neal won his last NBA title in 2006 there has not been the stereotypical dominant center on an NBA championship team. Tim Duncan, while he is a great player, is considered a power forward in this argument. O’Neal was not the irresistible force of his previous championship runs with Dwayne Wade averaging 34.7 points per game in the NBA finals and O’Neal averaging 13.7 points per game.

The trending style in the NBA is to go small which entails not having a true center on the floor. The Golden State Warriors were able to win the NBA title because Steve Kerr and the Golden State coaching staff decided to go small. 6-7 Draymond Green was the tallest starter for the Warriors but it worked and exposed matchup problems for the Cleveland Cavaliers and was a pivotal decision that determined the NBA Champion. The NBA is also a copycat league and teams may try to emulate the unconventional small lineup.

There are two draft prospects that can alter the philosophy and mindset of NBA executives and reemphasize the dominant center. Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns have both been projected to be top 5 draft picks and for a significant duration many experts projected them as being the first two selections in the 2015 NBA drafts. Both have the potential, ability and skill to become cornerstones of the organizations that draft them.

During the onset of the 2014-2015 college basketball season Okafor was the projected number one pick for this upcoming draft. Standing at 6-10 and weighing 275 pounds Okafor has the frame to punish defenders in the post. While leading Duke to the 2015 NCAA title Okafor demonstrated an uncanny skillset that will be provide multiple obstacles for opposing teams.

Similar to Okafor, Towns went to traditional power Kentucky and while playing in a platoon system led Kentucky to 38 straight victories in a row and a trip to the Final Four. There could have even been a dream matchup of Okafor vs. Towns for the NCAA championship if the Wisconsin Badgers did not upset Towns’s Wildcats. Towns is listed at 6-11 and 250 lbs. but is more of a back to the basket post player than Okafor. Towns was the steady projected number 2 pick in the 2015 draft until the NCAA tournament. When Kentucky needed a basket the ball wound up in Towns’s hands and more times than not he delivered. With his performance in the 2015 NCAA tournament Towns was able to overtake Okafor as the projected number one pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

While the fad in the NBA could be to play small the development of Okafor and Towns could adjust how teams are constructed in the NBA. If Okafor and Towns both develop into MVP candidates the opposing teams would have to adjust how their team is designed. So if Okafor and Towns do develop to their full potential it would be very difficult for a 6-7 forward to stop either of them.

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