Jahlil Okafor has been reborn in the “Big Easy”. The former number three pick of the 2015 draft and castoff of Philadelphia’s process has been a breath of fresh air for the Pelicans. In his last five games, he is averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds per game while shooting 74% from the field.
Since the injury of Anthony Davis Okafor has been able to provide the Pelicans with a strong inside presence. Okafor has seemed to resurrect his career since joining the Pelicans. He signed a two year $3.2 million dollar deal this past offseason. Before this five-game stretch, he had already logged 17 DNPs and was inactive twice during this season. His minutes have risen along with his production as he is now playing 32 minutes a game.
Okafor was supposed to a cornerstone part of the Philadelphia 76ers rebuilding process. He was supposed to play along Joel Embiid for years to come. Instead, he would find himself injured and he even got involved an off-court altercation. When he did play his rebounding could be better, and let's be honest his defense was less than stellar. With the rise of Embiid and Ben Simmons, the 76ers found no use for Okafor. He would be jettison to the bench and then traded to the Brooklyn Nets. In a few years, Jahlil Okafor went from an NCAA champion at Duke and a possible franchise center in the NBA to people wondering would he be out the league in a couple of years.
I remember leaving out of a Boston Market in downtown Hyde Park located on the south side of Chicago this past summer and Okafor walked right past me. I remember thinking he looked to be in phenomenal shape. A credit to him he worked on his body, got into incredible shape, and when he got his opportunity to play he took advantage of his opportunity.
Now that Davis has informed the Pelicans that he will not resign with the team and wants to be traded the question is how does this affect Okafor? Has his trade value gone up since his great play? Can the Pelicans use him as a trade piece in any Anthony Davis trade? Will he stay with the Pelicans long term if he is not traded? We will have to wait and see what the future holds. As fellow Chicagoan, I was definitely rooting for Okafor to be successful. I am glad he has been able to resurrect his career in the ”Big Easy”.