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Wednesday September 26, 2007 2:34 pm

Dropping Dimes Mock Draft 2007 Round 4, Pick 9 - Emeka Okafor

Emeka Okafor and Kobe Bryant

It was over three years ago that Emeka Okafor was chosen second overall in the 2004 NBA draft becoming the first ever draft pick for the Charlotte Bobcats. If you recall there was great debate whom the Orlando Magic should pick first overall - Dwight Howard or Emeka Okafor. In the end, they took Howard.  However, it looked like early on that Okafor was the more polished player as he went on to win the Rookie of the Year award, just edging out former U-Conn teammate, Ben Gordon. Now the verdict on who is the better player between Dwight Howard and Emeka Okafor is a little more cloudier and it seems that the wind is blowing Howard’s way.

Round 4 Pick 9: Emeka Okafor, PF/C, Charlotte Bobcats

Let’s check out Emeka Okafor’s numbers during his three-year tenure in the NBA:

’04-’05, GP 73 – 15.1 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.7 bpg, 1.7 topg, 44.7 FG%, 60.9 FT%
’05-’06, GP 26 – 13.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.9 bpg, 2.0 topg, 41.5 FG%, 65.6 FT%
’06-’07, GP 67 – 14.4 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.9 spg, 2.6 bpg, 1.7 topg, 53.2 FG%, 59.3 FT%

Conversely, let’s take a look at Dwight Howard’s numbers:

’04-’05, GP 82 – 12.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.7 bpg, 2.0 topg, 52.0 FG%, 67.1 FT%
’05-’06, GP 82 – 15.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.4 bpg, 2.7 topg, 53.1 FG%, 59.5 FT%
’06-’07, GP 82 – 17.6 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 1.9 bpg, 3.9 topg, 60.3 FG%, 58.6 FT%

Offensively, you can see the improvements in Howard’s scoring.  He has developed his post game and does most of his scoring in the paint, which is evident with his impressive field goal percentage. Unfortunately, Howard’s field goal proficiency does not carry over to the free-throw line. Howard’s Shaq-like free throw percentage is a major part of his Achilles’ heel in regards to his game. The other part of Howard’s game that has left coaches and many fantasy owners shaking their heads are his turnovers. Dwight’s 3.9 turnovers/game tops all big man and ranked him third in the NBA last season.  Orlando signed free agent Rashard Lewis in the offseason.  Lewis’ perimeter game should compliment Howard’s post-game. Howard looks primed to improve on last year’s scoring numbers.

Emeka’s scoring numbers, however, are not as promising as his scoring has dropped both years from his rookie season average. The Bobcats have evolved since his rookie year. With the emergence of Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton, Emeka is not dependent to be the “man” offensively. When the team needs to score, quite often Okafor’s number is not called upon. With the acquisition of Jason Richardson it could result in less shots for Okafor which means he will be hard pressed to improve on last year’s numbers. To his credit, Okafor has improved his FG% last year pushing it above the 50% range. Okafor’s free throw percentage is slightly better than Howard’s, but that’s not saying much.

Okafor’s real value is on the defensive side of the ball. Emeka is a monster on the glass and his 11.3 rebounds/game would have ranked him 6th in the league. If your league counts offensive boards then Okafor is your man as his 3.9 O-rebs/game was tied for second with Ben Wallace last season. Oh no, teams are attacking the rim; time to call in the SWAT team! Okafor’s 2.6 blocks/game is good for third in the league tied with Jermaine O’Neal. Okafor’s average of close to a steal per game is gravy from a big man.

Howard’s advantage on the defensive side or the ball is less obvious. The rebounding numbers are quite similar with Howard with a slight better rebounding average. Okafor edges out Howard on the offensive glass boards and Okafor is obviously better at blocks than Howard.

Howard’s biggest advantage over Okafor is games played. Dwight has won the perfect attendance award the last three years, missing zero games. On the flip side, Emeka has missed 80 games in the same time frame. In fact, Emeka has yet to play a full season, which in part is why he has dropped on many cheat lists. Last year, Emeka missed games due to a strained calf and the season before he missed games with a sprained ankle. What is disturbing is that it seems like Okafor is a slow healer. It is too early to say but Marcus Camby’s “Cotton Camby” moniker as being easily injured could have a successor in Emeka Okafor. 

Three years later, it seems like Orlando made the right decision in the 2004 NBA draft by picking Dwight Howard first overall. Okafor is a still a solid pick, however, you have to be wary of Okafor’s injury history. This is his fourth year in the league and we can only hope that Okafor does not go “0 for 4” in full seasons played!

Other Players on this Fantasy Team:
1.4. Kevin Garnett, PF, Boston Celtics
2.9. Allen Iverson, PG/SG, Denver Nuggets
3.4. Deron Williams, PG, Utah Jazz

Previous Picks this Round

4.1. Joe Johnson, PG/SG, Atlanta Hawks
4.2. Kevin Martin, SG, Sacramento Kings
4.3. Brandon Roy, PG/SG, Portland Trailblazers
4.4. Jason Richardson, SG, Charlotte Bobcats
4.5. Mike Bibby, PG, Sacramento Kings
4.6. Ron Artest, SF, Sacramento Kings
4.7. Josh Howard, SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks
4.8. Raymond Felton, PG/SG, Charlotte Bobcats

Previous Round Selections
Round One Recap
Round Two Recap
Round Three Recap



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