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Deeper Dive: Jahlil Okafor's Footwork in the Post is Off the Charts Special

by Photo of Tommy Dee

One NBA scout thinks Duke’s freshman may be the best combination, post game talent the game has seen in decades.

Deeper Dive: Jahlil Okafor's Footwork in the Post is Off the Charts Special

There's a reason so many current NBA players have called on Hakeem Olajuwon to help them instill post moves into their current offensive skill sets. His ability to score and put his defender to sleep are what dreams are made of. That notion ranks at such a supreme degree that he's named after it, for without question, his footwork was a once in a generation gift for NBA fans.                    

It was a highly-touted game earlier in this young basketball season, a contest between Wisconsin's well-seasoned senior big man Frank Kaminsky and Duke's Jahlil Okafor when I had the chance to be brought back in a time machine. As I go on in years and the seasons slip by, moments like these make me cherish those moments even more as they give me hope that the days of the throwback center haven't completely been engulfed by the spread, four-out one-in, pick-and-roll offenses that saturate the NBA. Moments like these make me hopeful that there are still people mentoring young bigs and suggesting they recognize the past and embrace what made the greats great in gyms across America.

It gives me hope that the game, particularly in the post, is progressing and not regressing.      

Where are we without hope for the future of post players in the NBA? Think about it, the best post players in the NBA today may very well be forwards. Who are the guys that you dump the ball in and let them go to work? Dwight Howard? When I think the Rockets I think Dribble Drive Harden and the stats tend to agree. Carmelo Anthony. Dirk Nowitzki. Blake Griffin. These gentlemen are all forwards. Brook Lopez and Roy Hibbert made cameos over the past few years but their feet won't allow them to stay on the floor enough. I can name a few more to belabor the point, but I'm no masochist.   

But getting back to this particular move. This move, and a series of fundamentally perfect and equally unstoppable skills, starting with footwork, lead me to believe that Jahlil Okafor has the rarest of all traits that a big man in basketball can have. The combination of footwork, strong hands and agility.  

This immediately took me back to a move that Hakeem Olajuwon perfected. It was called the "double fake" and it was an innovation the league hadn't seen. In case you weren't aware that's David Robinson he just shook the shit out of and truth be told there has never been a post player, or a big man that these eyes have ever seen who had better footwork than The Dream. I often call Dream the most underrated great player in NBA history and here's why. The Portland Trail Blazers get ridiculed all the time for not drafting Michael Jordan in 1984's NBA Draft, instead selecting Sam Bowie. You know who never gets ridiculed? The Houston Rockets. Jordan went 3rd that year, Olajuwon went first. 

What does that tell you?

Olajuwon's post repertoire developed over time and it was built around his footwork, which he perfected at a young age playing soccer in his home country of Nigeria. What has astounded me and scouts that I have talked to about Okafor is how quickly he's added post moves to his arsenal. 

"Don't forget his base," one Eastern Conference team scout said to me, pointing out how difficult it is for defenses to move Okafor off of the block once he's established position.

"People talk about how he reminds them of Duncan, and you mention Hakeem's feet. I see some Shaq on the block there as well."

Whoever you choose to compare him to, there's significant buzz around the NBA that Okafor will be a can't miss player. While people question his athleticism (he's no Anthony Davis) and his defense, people can't get past just how polished his post skills are and how efficient and unselfish he is. Bigs who can score at will AND share the ball? Those are gems. It's important to note that Hakeem was much smaller in the block measuring closer to 6'9" to Okafor's 6'11", and he wasn't anywhere near the Duke star's 270 plus frame. With this understanding, Hakeem's moves were quicker, but Okafor being that much bigger may make his footwork even that much more impressive.

Take Wednesday night's game against rival North Carolina, a game that saw Okafor crumble to the ground after stepping on an ankle following a long jumper. Okafor came back into the game hurt, but didn't selfishly need to anchor the offense. He was limited and didn't mind sharing the spotlight. In the NBA he'll see less double teams and I don't see more than a handful of defenders in the league right now who can handle him on both blocks.

Here's our Deeper Dive on Duke center Jahlil Okafor's incredible footwork with an assist from Gang Starr.

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Comments (8)Add a comment
  1. Michael Dimaio 's profile

    Michael Dimaio

    February 19th, 2015 @22:42

    "That notion ranks at such a supreme degree that he's named after it, for without question, his footwork is what NBA dreams are made of." Congratulations. That's the worst written sentence in the history of the English language.

  2. Tommy Dee's profile

    Tommy Dee

    February 20th, 2015 @11:27

    Doubtful

  3. Tommy Dee's profile

    Tommy Dee

    February 20th, 2015 @11:36

    In all seriousness Michael I'm all for criticism. I welcome it. Feel free to email me [email protected]

  4. Michael Dimaio 's profile

    Michael Dimaio

    February 20th, 2015 @14:42

    Here's some constructive criticism: stop writing words. Find someone who is, give them your 'insider' info and pay him or her to write it for you, because you're very, very bad at it. It makes your company look bad that they continue to give you this platform.

  5. Tommy Dee's profile

    Tommy Dee

    February 23rd, 2015 @12:40

    "Find someone who is, give them your 'insider' info and pay him or her to write it for you, because you're very, very bad at it."

  6. Michael Dimaio 's profile

    Michael Dimaio

    February 25th, 2015 @17:53

    Did you copy my advice so you can remember it? It's not very complex; just stop writing.

  7. Tommy Dee's profile

    Tommy Dee

    February 26th, 2015 @10:28

    I was pointing out egregiously bad grammar

  8. Michael Dimaio 's profile

    Michael Dimaio

    February 26th, 2015 @12:22

    You're right. It should have been "Find someone who can..." I am not a good writer. You know, like you.

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