Jason Collins was an NBA center for 13 years, meaning he’s guarded some of the best big men of the last decade and beyond.
Thus, if anyone can shed some light on the Okafor-versus-Towns debate, it’s him.
So, Jason, which big man will translate better in the NBA: Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns?
“They’re both incredible players,” Collins said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The one thing I will say when I was watching Okafor play, he did a move that was very Tim Duncan-ish. Tim Duncan is obviously in a very special class, but (Okafor) faced up the player for Michigan State. First of all, his hands are so big. The way he palms a basketball looks like a softball in his hand. That will help him because the college basketball is a lot easier to grip than the NBA basketball. The NBA ball can get a little slick, and if you have huge hands like he has, it’s going to be a distinct advantage. But he faced up the player on the left side of the low block and just shot a little bank shot, and it was just simple. If he can continue to do that at the next level, it will open up so many parts (of his game).
“Towns, I love his ability to shoot a jump hook over both hands,” Collins continued, “and he’s got a nice little fadeaway game. (He’s also a) better defensive (player than Okafor), and I love the fact that his free throw percentage (is high). I think he’s over 80 percent.”
In the end, though, Collins would rather have Okafor, whose ability to run the floor – especially at his size – is special.
While Okafor and Towns will likely be the top two picks in the draft – in some order – what about Frank Kaminsky? How will the national player of the year fare at the next level?
“He has an ability to step away from the basket and stretch the defense,” Collins said. “He can play 4 and 5 at the next level with his ability to shoot from the perimeter. My brother is an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors. Years ago, Draymond Green would have been an undersized 4 in this league – but because he can shoot the ball, because he can put the ball on the deck, it just has changed the Golden State Warriors’ offense. Kaminsky can do that, but even more is going to be (Sam) Dekker. He has a bigger upside as an NBA player than Kaminsky does.”
Collins saw Dekker play in person against North Carolina in the Sweet 16. The junior finished with 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting to go with 10 rebounds in a 79-72 win.
“He can drive either way, finish with either hand (and has an) ability to spot-up,” Collins said of Dekker. “He is, at this level, a matchup nightmare.”
Which is one reason why Collins likes Wisconsin (36-3) to beat Duke (34-4) for the national championship Monday.
“I’ll be happy with whatever team wins,” Collins said, “but there’s something special about this team. There’s something special also about the whole payback thing as far as being able to get revenge against Kentucky in the last game when Kentucky obviously ended their season last year, and then obviously Duke beating Wisconsin earlier this season. They have that chip on their shoulder. That gives them that extra incentive (to win).”