Six Questions About Okafor

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Published: July 31, 2009

After acquiring Emeka Okafor, I sent some questions about him to Bobcats Blogger Brett Hainline, lord and master of the ESPN Truehoop Network Blog Queen City Hoops.  I’ve always had a warm place in my heart for Brett, since he and I started blogging about our respective teams at about the same time.  You should too – if being in command of stats is like being in command of the force, Brett Hainline is Yoda, and I’m random Jedi #3 who is slaughtered in Star Wars Episode II: The Clone Wars.

Or maybe he’s Mace Windu, so he can have the cool violet lightsaber.

Ahem.  Anyways, I asked him some basketball questions about Emeka.  Enjoy:

Hornets247.com:  How does Okafor do in the Pick and Roll? Paul is much more effective if the big is willing to set a hard, solid screen and then blitz the basket. Does Okafor do that? Does he slip screens too early? Not roll hard?

Queen City Hoops: Emeka is solid, though he shares Tyson’s tendency towards offensive fouls – Emeka has a bad habit of setting moving screens (or at least a bad habit of getting called for it).  He does roll hard – you don’t have to worry about him doing a pick and pop.  Emeka will  present himself as a big target, but does occasionally fumble passes or pause to gather himself just a second too long, which leads him to being among the league leaders (the league leader?) in blocks against.  With that said, here is an example where the Cats ran the pick and roll to perfection.

Hornets247.com: Lots of concerns on the web about his ability to defend elite centers, not that anyone can really stop those sorts of players. Are there players he just can’t handle? Players or types of players he tends to dominate?

Queen City Hoops: Chris Bosh and Dirk Nowitzki destroyed Emeka – 90 points combined in 113 minutes against him.  Shaq and Yao also enjoyed playing against him – nearly 29 points per 40 minutes for Diesel and over 24.5 per for The Great Wall.  So – really skilled or really big.  One positive though for Hornets fans – in 85+ minutes against Pau Gasol, Emeka surrendered just 22 points, a per 40 mark of 10.3. 

Hornets247.com: Does he have a post game?

Queen City Hoops:Emeka does have a post game, but you will have flashbacks to the 80s as the sound track would consist of nothing but Mr. Roboto.  Emeka will toss up hooks with both hands and sometimes you will fear for the backboard.  Aside from those complaints, he does have a handful of moves and can score on the block – but he will get blocked semi-regularly and he will not make his free throws consistently.  Those are the facts.

Hornets247.com: How is Okafor as an outlet passer off a rebound to start a fast break? And does his talents as a shotblocker generate much in the way of fastbreaks or does he send it into the crowd?

Queen City Hoops: You want Emeka making the simplest passes possible – he grabs more than his share of rebounds, but if you want a fastbreak, you want someone else coming up with the board. 

As for blocks – Emeka is more of a deflect kind of guy than a spiker, so he gives his team a chance to recover.  He is not the same shot blocker he was in college though, as he seems to have lost a little spring from his earlier back injuries (and his constant avoidance of foul trouble to keep the CLT bench from coming into play is also a factor in slightly less aggressiveness). 

Hornets247.com: Larry Brown’s statement about how he wanted Okafor to improve his desire is oft-repeated. Does Okafor not always give his best? Or is he simply a reserved guy?

Queen City Hoops: As near as I can tell, Emeka was always working hard – just not necessarily smart.  As mentioned previously, he has a tendency to pick up cheap fouls and as far as emotion, the most you tend to see from him is a slap of his hands together.  

Hornets247.com: Anything else we should know about Okafor?

Queen City Hoops: Emeka is a solid player, a solid citizen, and a very bright guy.  He will be a good addition to the team and city.  I think you can expect him to produce similar numbers for the rest of his contract  – 15 points, 11 rebounds, and a couple of blocks.  Enjoy.

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