Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor is still believed to be the odd man out of the City of Brotherly Love. More than a month before the start 0f the 2017-18 NBA season, some people are wondering why the former third overall pick remains a member of the Sixers. However, the latest rumors suggest that the Sixers will evaluate the team’s performance first before actively shopping Okafor again.
After being selected as the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA draft, Jahlil Okafor managed to impress in his rookie season, averaging 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks on 50.8 percent shooting from the field. Unfortunately, his performance has tremendously gone down in his sophomore year where most people viewed him as a disappointment.
The arrival of Joel Embiid last season created a logjam in their frontcourt. Embiid earned the role as starting center, leaving the backup spot to Okafor and Nerlens Noel. After a series of experiment, coach Brett Brown realized they needed more of Noel than Okafor. Noel is a quality rim protector while Okafor is almost non-existent on the defensive end.
Before the February deadline, they tried to move Okafor but failed to get an ideal trade partner. This forced them to move Noel to the Dallas Mavericks but revealed that Okafor isn’t yet safe from being moved.
As of now, Jahlil Okafor isn’t considered as one of the core players of the Sixers. In the upcoming 2017-18 NBA season, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz are expected to end the Sixers’ playoff drought. If Embiid is healthy throughout the season, Okafor will need to battle for the backup role with Richaun Holmes.
Basketball Insiders recently created a 2017-18 season preview of the Philadelphia 76ers, predicting that the tanking process has finally come to an end. However, the main problem for the Sixers is keeping their core players healthy. Another interesting information written in the article is the potential Jahlil Okafor trade. The Sixers will consider evaluating their performance first before making any deal.
“The Sixers have long shopped Jahlil Okafor in a trade, but the team may wait to see what the roster looks like on the floor before making any major changes,” the report reads.
Last month, the 21-year-old center dismissed all the rumors surrounding him and said that he “couldn’t be happier” to be a member of the Sixers. As of now, he’s working on improving his skills and physique. According to Jessica Camareto of CSN Philly, Okafor lost 20 pounds after embracing a “mostly” vegan diet.
Jahlil Okafor made a big change to his diet, drops 20 pounds. https://t.co/UC1HYzBNNC
— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoCSN) August 25, 2017
Whether Okafor shows massive improvement this offseason or not, it remains questionable if he will reclaim the starting role in Philadelphia. As most people think, it will be best for him to be traded to another team. According to Fansided, the Phoenix Suns would be an ideal trade partner for the Sixers to facilitate a Jahlil Okafor trade.
In the suggested deal, the Suns will be acquiring Okafor for Dragan Bender. Both teams could package additional trade assets to make the deal more interesting. Okafor will undeniably be a great fit with the Suns where he can play alongside Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. Being a skilled low post scorer, there is no doubt that he will be a better frontcourt partner to Marquese Chriss than Bender.
As of now, there is no urgency for the Sixers to move Okafor. Their performance in the upcoming 2017-18 NBA season will determine if they have enough assets to compete for the title or still need to make an improvement on their roster.
[Featured Image by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]