The NBA trade deadline is a bit over a month away, giving several more weeks of NBA trade rumors. One player whose name hasn’t disappeared from trade speculation over the past several months is Jahlil Okafor of the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers big man is once again popping up in headlines as a potential player who will swap teams before the February deadline. The latest team being mentioned as a destination for Okafor by some circuits is the Toronto Raptors. Could Okafor possibly get sent over to the Eastern Conference’s main contender when it comes to dethroning LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers?
The Sixers are already a team loaded with future talent, as Joel Embiid has been emerging as a star big man lately, with dominant performances against the likes of Toronto, according to TSN. In addition, their recent top draft pick, Ben Simmons, is due to return from injury in the near future. In addition to Embiid, the team has also had Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor as parts of their roster, which may have them overloaded at the big man position. Moving Okafor and Noel may be the best moves for the team as they look to build a squad capable of contending in the East for a playoff spot. That could also be good for Okafor as he could regain the type of successful season he once had in the NBA.
ESPN’s NBA Insider Chad Ford mentioned that Okafor may have digressed from his earlier breakout stats, but that could change soon.
“But I don’t think Okafor is as bad as he looks many nights in Philly either. He needs a change of scenery badly and all indications are that the Sixers are going to give it to him — probably in the next month. On a different team in a different situation, I think Okafor can be a quality starter in the NBA someday.”
In a recent Sportsrageous report, a speculated trade involves the Philadelphia 76ers sending Jahlil Okafor to the Toronto Raptors. In the trade, Philly would receive Cory Joseph and a 2017 NBA Draft Pick. Joseph, who has spent five years in the league, is currently averaging 9.6 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game. He’d provide the Sixers with some depth at the point guard spot where Ben Simmons will likely become a player in the vein of LeBron James, able to handle the playmaking in the future. In addition, Philadelphia would have another NBA Draft pick to use for their roster needs.
For the Raptors, if these trade rumors end up becoming true, they’d pick up some more help in the frontcourt. Okafor is currently third on the Sixers in terms of scoring with just over 11 points a game. He’s also snatching about five rebounds a game and recording at least a block and an assist each contest. In a different system, such as Toronto’s, those stats might even improve. He’d also provide them some inside help as they look to challenge the defending NBA champions in the Eastern Conference. As it stands, Toronto seems to be the Cavs’ only legitimate threat. The Raptors were outrebounded by Cleveland 255-210 in the Eastern Conference Finals, so an Okafor trade could certainly boost them in that category.
Okafor was originally the No. 3 overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2015 NBA Draft, and at the time, was touted as a potential future star in the league. For his NBA career, he’s managed to average over 15 points per game and 6.3 rebounds, showing that he does have the ability to play well within the right environment.
For Philadelphia, it makes perfect sense that they’d want to trade at least Okafor, if not Noel with him, as they look toward building a quality roster that works best. Right now, the team is 14-26, which is fourth in the Atlantic Division. While that still looks disappointing, it’s already a nice improvement over last season’s 10-72 finish in the NBA standings. It’s clear that Embiid’s emerging dominance in the paint is aiding the team’s success, and they can improve even more going forward.
Philadelphia certainly has the time and the room to figure it all out, especially with Ben Simmons finally coming back to the court soon. Reports from ESPN and other sources indicate that Simmons could be back after the NBA All-Star break, which gives Sixers’ fans plenty to be excited about. The overloaded roster certainly has given Philadelphia management some interesting NBA trade scenarios to contemplate ahead of February’s deadline.
[Featured Image by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]