Jahlil Okafor’s wait is almost over. The NBA draft is Thursday night, and the Duke big man will be one of the top picks. He said Wednesday he wished he already knew his destination.
“I’d be able to sleep better at night if I did. I have no idea,” he said. “It’s been a long process, a lot of fun, but I’m ready for it to be over with so I’ll know where I’m going to be playing.”
He’s had it much easier than many fellow draft candidates. He worked out for just Minnesota and the Los Angeles Lakers, who own the top two selections.
But Okafor and fellow center Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky were on TV so much that there wasn’t much left for them to show teams, anyway. Even while finishing up his pro season in Spain, Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis was able to evaluate them.
“They are good players,” he said, “very athletic, very big, so they’re very talented.”
Philadelphia picks third for the second straight year, followed by New York and Orlando. Sacramento, Denver, Detroit, Charlotte and Miami round out the top 10.
Here are some things to watch at Barclays Center in Brooklyn:
COUNTING THE CATS: Led by center Karl-Anthony Towns, who is considered the likely No. 1 pick, Kentucky could have seven players drafted Thursday. That would break the record the Wildcats set in 2012, when they had six players chosen. Kentucky also owns the record for first-round selections, when John Wall led five players in 2010.
“It’s great,” forward Trey Lyles said of potentially having so many selections. “It helps the program out a lot and it just shows that when you bring a group of guys together that are unselfish, everybody benefits from it.”
FRANK THE TANK: National player of the year Frank Kaminsky has met with the Knicks, who own the No. 4 pick, so perhaps could be taken pretty quickly. But he could also end up late in the lottery, forcing him to wait another half hour or more to hear his name. He said that wouldn’t bother him.
“No, I’ll just be chilling at the table with my family,” he said. “Don’t get mad if I start playing games on my phone or something. I mean, I’m ready to go whenever. I know it could be a long night or it could be a short night, it doesn’t really matter to me.”
A SIXER FIXER? Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell could draw interest from the Philadelphia 76ers with the No. 3 pick. The Sixers have become one of the league’s worst teams while undertaking what appears to be a lengthy rebuilding plan, but said he wouldn’t have a problem being part of it.
“Not at all,” he said while taking part in an NBA Cares clinic. “I’m not a losing guy and I just want to bring that spirit around a lot of players.”
TRADE TALK: The Knicks have needs all over their roster, so President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson was asked about the chances of trading their No. 4 pick and moving backward in hopes of adding multiple players.
“A short percentage. A small percentage. A 5 percentage,” he said. “How much do you pay in taxes?”
KINGS THINGS: Following a flurry of trade rumors involving All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins this week, there is plenty of intrigue following the Sacramento Kings, who own the No. 6 selection.
Though reports pointed to friction with coach George Karl, Kings officials said they wouldn’t move Cousins. John Calipari, who coached Cousins at Kentucky, said they shouldn’t.
“He’s not getting traded,” Calipari said in an interview on DirecTV’s “The Rich Eisen Show.” I mean, why would you trade an All-Star? I mean, you know how hard it is to get All-Stars?”
DO LIKE DAD: At least one son of a former NBA player has been selected in the last 13 drafts, a streak that includes MVP Stephen Curry of Golden State in 2009. That streak should be extended early by Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant, son of forward Harvey Grant. He said his father’s advice was to keep working hard
“It’s harder to stay than it is to get there,” Grant said of his father’s message. “Just keep working and hopefully you’ll have a long career.”