Okafor and Knicks’ Porzingis are paying big dividends!

By Martha Sullivan

Don’t look now but Sixer center Jahlil Okafor is ringing up big numbers as part of the best rookie NBA class in years.

Karl-Anthony Towns has been a force on both ends for Minnesota. Okafor is putting up monster offensive numbers in and Kristaps Porzingis has the basketball-starved Knicks fans, many of whom booed his pick at last June’s draft, cheering for more.

Justise Winslow has been a defensive dynamo in Miami, Stanley Johnson looks like the perfect fit for Stan Van Gundy’s system in Detroit and Emmanuel Mudiay may have earned the highest praise of them all when Jason Kidd predicted that the Denver Nuggets’ point guard would have a better career than he did.

”I think this rookie class in general has shown skill level, but also poise beyond their years,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

It’s a stark contrast to last year when Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins had no competition for the rookie of the year award. Jabari Parker,Joel Embiid, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Doug McDermott all struggled with injuries. Nik Stauskas and Noah Vonleh were both traded last summer one year after being top 10 picks.

Towns, the No. 1 overall pick, has led the way, putting up point, rebound and block totals this early in his career that haven’t been seen since Shaquille O’Neal’s first season with the Orlando Magic. He is averaging 15.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.

”I think about the things I’m asking him to do against the people I’m asking him to do it against and I have to always remind myself that he’s 19,” Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell said, ”that he should be a sophomore in college.”


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