2015 National Champion, First Team All- American, ACC Player of the Year, 3rd Overall NBA Draft Pick, All Rookie-First Team. On accolades alone, it hints at a player that should be able to find minutes in the NBA. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia 76ers disagree. Jahlil Okafor entered the 2018 season understanding the idea that his minutes would be cut down…but no one could have imagined how drastically. As the Sixers prepare for their 24th game of the season, the former Duke star has only competed in two games. Sixers management also informed Okafor that they would not pick up his 4th year option. A team that has finally found direction, has in turn, changed the direction of Okafor’s career. There is a place for a 21-year-old post player, even in today’s NBA landscape.
Option 1: Chicago Bulls
As a Chicago High School phenom, Jahlil Okafor would be a perfect fit if the Sixers sent him back home. The Bulls currently have the worst PPG in the paint in the entire league, while also sporting one of the worst rosters in the league. Okafor would fit in nicely with the Bulls one shining light, stretch four and rookie Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen and PG Kris Dunn are likely the only untouchables on the roster, lending the Sixers the ability to have their “pick of the litter”. While the Bulls are looking at a long rebuild ahead they could really use a “face of the franchise” type guy. Okafor has that potential…oh, and a top 3 draft pick wont hurt either.
Option 2: Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota is a bit farfetched with a coach like Tom Thibodeau. Tommy T is known to display a short fuse with players that seem to have a problem playing defense. That being said, Thibodeau is a defensive mastermind that could potentially find a way to utilize Okafor’s length.
Karl Anthony-Towns’ face up game would match well with Okafor on the weak side as an offensive rebounder. Coming off the bench, Okafor would provide scoring potential in the middle, opening up the 3-point line for veteran sharp-shooter Jamal Crawford. Oh, don’t forget about the potential of reuniting him with his old Blue Devil buddy Tyus Jones. Jones and Okafor have a shared NCAA National Title. Could they bring similar success to a playoff hungry city?
Option 3: Boston Celtics
The Celtics are built around young talent, but after the devastating injury to Gordon Hayward they lack a consistent second scoring option. Rookie Jayson Tatum has emerged earlier than expected, while veteran Al Horford continues to be a strong force in the middle. The addition of a post scorer with the ability to put the ball in the basket on every touch can be an asset for a team with serious championship thoughts.
Brad Stevens has found a way to get the most out of every player on his roster. Utilizing the strengths of a player like Okafor would be a coaches dream with that young roster. It would be fun to see Okafor in a game that has some meaning. The Celtics still have movable assets , but at this point in the season this one could be a long shot.
The Sixers will most likely just wait for Okafor’s contract to expire. At 21-years-old he still has plenty of time to take his career in the right direction. It is just a shame he has to waste a prime developing year with an organization that has been so openly disrespectful to him. Keep doing the right thing Jah. You will be set free.