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Report: Flip Saunders Preferred Jahlil Okafor But Has Warmed To Karl-Anthony Towns

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns
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Karl-Anthony Towns has emerged as something close to the consensus to prospect in the 2015 NBA Draft. But the masses’ opinion only matters so much. What will ultimately decide whether or not the Kentucky product’s actual draft position lives to his that status is the assessment of Flip Saunders.

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ president and head coach is his organization’s most influential decision-maker. And according to ESPN Insider’s Chad Ford, Saunders isn’t completely sold on choosing Towns with the first pick. In fact, he preferred Jahlil Okafor during the early pre-draft process.

General manager and coach Flip Saunders has been an Okafor guy all year, but most of his staff is pushing for Towns, who will be a better fit given Minnesota’s personnel. Saunders traveled to Thousand Oaks last week to watch Towns work out. After the workout, I kept getting assured that Flip will ultimately turn Towns’ way. But it’s not a done deal.

We’ve long considered Towns the best player in the draft, and he makes far more sense than Okafor as the ‘Wolves additional building block alongside Andrew Wiggins, too.

Minnesota was the worst defensive team in the league last season; the last thing it needs is to add an obvious minus on that side of the ball like Okafor to the equation. And not only is Towns a superior defender, but his ability to stretch the floor and play in ball-screens situations is exactly what the Timberwolves need offensively. Ricky Rubio will do a lion’s share of ballhandling, and Wiggins already proved himself a beast on the block during his rookie campaign. Minny needs spacing and finishing offensively, and Towns figures to offer both attributes in spades.

Choosing between Towns and Okafor seems simple. Is it possible that Saunders knows something we don’t? Certainly. But it’s still extremely telling that Towns has separated himself from Okafor and the rest in the minds of most talent evaluators over the past few week. And thankfully for Timberwolves fans, Saunders’ support staff is among that majority.

[Via ESPN Insider]

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