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NBA Rumors: The Next Tim Duncan?

All it took was two college games for projected No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft Jahlil Okafor to start drawing lofty comparisons.

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Okafor the next Tim Duncan?

“Okafor’s got some pretty good size and he doesn’t know how big he is yet. But he’s got tremendous skill… He does a great job of passing out of the post, which is a lost art. He reminds me of Tim Duncan, who I think is the best post passer in the NBA right now,” ESPN college basketball analyst Shane Battier, a two-time NBA champion, told SNY.tv. –

Via ZagsBlog.com

It didn’t take long for the Okafor hype train to start, but for those who have been watching him since high school this is no surprise. Okafor has long been projected to be the NBA’s next great big man as he’s blessed with incredible size, touch, post moves and strength. He displayed those in a big way against Michigan State, and now will be taking on Kentucky in a matchup that could have a big impact on his standings in mock drafts.

Okafor’s biggest competition for the number one spot in the 2015 NBA Draft is Emmanuel Mudiay, who is playing in China, and Kentucky’s Karl Towns. Towns’ Wildcats manhandeled Kansas right after Okafor and the Blue Devils topped the Michigan State Spartans, setting the stage for a great matchup in the tournament of champions.

Duncan is a really lofty comparison for anyone, even someone with the potential of Okafor. A more realistic comparison could be Al Jefferson, who dominated the high school ranks in a similar fashion before eventually making the jump straight to the NBA – something Okafor could not do due to the changes in the NBA’s age limit. Had he been eligible along with the rest of the deep and talented 2014 NBA Draft, it’s still very likely that Okafor would have been in the mix for the top overall selection – he’s that ready for the NBA.

Stephenson didn’t want to leave Pacers

“It was definitely a tough decision to leave but it almost was like we had no choice, to me. The next day, they signed CJ Miles so it was over from that point on. It was tough. It wasn’t like, ‘Eff, the Pacers!’ It was tough to leave. I didn’t think it would happen. Before free agency, if you asked me where Lance was going to be, I would’ve said, ‘He’s going to be a Pacer for life.’ That was one of our goals,” says Stephenson’s father as he leaned against the hallway leading to the Hornets’ home locker room. “I’m a firm believer in sticking with the team you got drafted by.”

Via Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star

The Pacers came out of the gates with a five-year, $44 million offer for Stephenson and were completely unwilling to negotiate or up their offer. In the end, this turned out to be a negotiating tactic that cost them a player they invested a lot of time and resources into developing. Stephenson rewarded their dedication by developing into one of the league’s most well-rounded, albeit a bit troublesome at times, shooting guards. Now, as they flounder towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference, they’re forced to watch Stephenson help a new contender push towards the top of the standings.

Stephenson will be making his return to Indiana soon, in what will definitely be a bitter sweet moment for the franchise. While they’re certainly happy that he’s gone on to succeed and make the kind of money they weren’t willing to offer, they sorely miss him right now as their attempts to replace him have not panned out so far.

Early out indefinitely

Cleanthony Early will have arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose fragment from his right knee.

The injury was diagnosed following an MRI exam.

Early will be reevaluated in one month to determine the timetable for his return to the New York Knicks’ lineup.

Via Marc Berman of the New York Post

Early was playing a small role for the struggling Knicks, playing just 7.7 minutes a game. He will likely spend some time in the D-League upon his return. However, depending on where the Knicks stand at that point, they could want to get him some more time on the floor in order to develop for the future if the playoffs are out of the picture. The Knicks are currently 3-9, but it’s still too early to rule anyone out of the playoff race in the East. Given the money they spent on Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson, the Knicks will probably push to make the playoffs for as long as it’s a realistic possibility.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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