Now more than ever, it appears Jahlil Okafor will be shipped to another NBA team in the very near future. While the Philadelphia 76ers simply have too many young, talented bigs, they are on the verge of making a huge mistake with Okafor.
First things first, let’s check out all of the latest rumors surrounding Okafor.
Sixers, about to break Miami’s 13-game win streak, held Jahlil Okafor out of tonight’s game as trade discussions gain momentum, per sources.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 12, 2017
There's a chance that Okafor could sit out the final two games prior to the all-star break due to ongoing trade talks.— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) February 12, 2017
Okafor is playing in just his second season in the NBA. In Year 1 in the pros, Okafor averaged 17.5 points, seven rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. He was drafted No. 3 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. In case fans already forgot, Okafor helped lead the Duke Blue Devils to a national championship victory in his lone season in college hoops. With that in mind, his numbers have taken a hit this season as he is only averaging 11.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Of course, his minutes have also dropped.
Now, some fans might be wondering why the 76ers, a team that has been in a serious rebuild mode for quite some time now, would trade one of their most talented, young players. Considering that Okafor has some serious upside, and is a center who can put the ball in the hoop at a high rate, which tends to be a hot commodity in the NBA, it would appear that Philadelphia is about to make a huge mistake.
The 76ers apparently have to deal one of their bigs, and all signs are pointing to Okafor.
Also on the roster is Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. Not to mention, Ben Simmons, who hasn’t played a single game this season thanks to an injury, is also on the 76ers. In the grand scheme of things, it was between Noel and Okafor regarding who was going to get traded.
Embiid, despite the fact that he has already dealt with a fair amount of injuries, seems to be the future in Philadelphia. And Simmons, well, Simmons was picked No. 1 overall in last summer’s draft, meaning he has untouchable written all over him at the moment.
According to ESPN, “League sources told ESPN that trade talks ramped up Saturday to the point where the Sixers were moved to prevent Okafor from playing. However, no deal appeared imminent as of Saturday night.”
“The Pelicans and Sixers have been engaged in serious trade talks centered around Okafor all week, but Philadelphia is believed to be talking to other teams, as well, reportedly including the Trail Blazers and Bulls.”
Currently, Philadelphia holds a record of 20-34. The year before, this team only won a total of 10 games. The year before that? 18. While the 76ers have been a pleasant surprise in the 2016-17 NBA season, they still have a long way to go before they can contend for a title — to say the least.
It is understandable that Philadelphia has to unload one of its young bigs, but getting rid of Okafor would be a shame. While the Duke product has not been the best defensive player this sport has ever seen (that’s quite an understatement), it is important to keep two things in mind: (1) Despite the fact that Okafor will probably never be elite on the defensive side of the ball, he still has plenty of time to improve some on the defensive end, and (2) scoring centers are rather hard to come by.
Nonetheless, the Philadelphia 76ers are on the verge of trading one of their most talented players away. Hopefully it doesn’t prove to be too costly in the long run.
Who knows? Philadelphia could end up being a serious playoff contender shortly, and Okafor could be averaging 20-plus points per game for a contender.
[Featured Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]