Jahlil Okafor predicted to win ROY

The Philadelphia 76ers will open the NBA’s regular season against the Boston Celtics from TD Garden in Boston on Wednesday night, Oct. 28, as the fans get a good look at rookie center Jahlil Okafor who has already received some national attention for his play. NBA general managers predict Okafor will be the NBA Rookie of the Year based on the results of this year’s NBA.com GM Survey.

Okafor received 44.8 percent for the rookie of the year honors. The 6-foot-11, 275-pounder, was selected No. 3 overall in the NBA draft by the Sixers last spring. Okafor, a first-team All-American, led Duke to a 35-4 record and the Blue Devils’ fifth NCAA championship. The Chicago native averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 blocks a game while compiling several accolades including National Freshman of the Year and ACC Player and Freshman of the Year. He is the first freshman in conference history to be chosen as ACC Player of the Year.

Okafor topped Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves, 34.5 percent), Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets, 13.8 percent) with D’Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers) and Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers) also receiving votes. Okafor had 12 points, eight rebounds, one assist and two blocks in the Sixers final preseason game against the Celtics last week.

In addition to Okafor, the GM Survey made several predictions. The general managers predict the Cleveland Cavaliers (53.6 percent of the vote) will win their first-ever NBA championship. The Cavaliers’ four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James received 39.3 percent of the MVP votes by the league’s general managers. New Orleans Pelicans center/forward Anthony Davis (25 percent) finished second in the MVP voting, followed by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (10.7 percent) and Houston Rockets guard James Harden (10.7 percent), Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (7.1 percent) and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. Curry won the MVP last season.

Davis received an amazing 86.2 percent of the votes from general managers for a player they would want to start a franchise with today. San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was picked the league’s top defender (27.6 percent) while San Antonio’s three-time NBA Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich received 93.1 percent of the votes for the league’s best coach.

Towns (62.1 percent) was projected to be the 2015 NBA draft’s best player five years from now.

Top honors from NBA.com’s 14th GM survey also include the Thunder (25 percent) as the top vote-getter for most improved team, Alvin Gentry (32.1 percent) eclipsing Billy Donovan (28.6 percent) as the new or relocated coach who will make the biggest impact this season, Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (20.7 percent) as the NBA’s best role player and Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins (17.2 percent) as a breakout player for this season.

Other survey results include: Stephen Curry, Golden State, Best Point Guard (55.2 percent); LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio, Most Impact Free Agent Acquisition (79.3 percent); Marc Gasol, Memphis, Best Interior Defender (27.6 percent); Ron Adams, Golden State, Best Assistant Coach (24.1 percent); and Justice Winslow, Miami, Biggest Draft Steal (31.0 percent).

NBA.com surveyed the league’s general managers to gather their responses on the best teams, players, coaches, offseason moves and more before the start of the season. The general managers were not allowed to vote for their own team or personnel.


By: Donald Hunt, Philly Tribune

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