Last week, former star Duke center Jahlil Okafor made it clear that he does not want to “trust the process”, and requested a buyout or trade from the Philadelphia 76ers. The situation has gotten increasingly more tense because of Jerry Colangelo’s refusal to act swiftly.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) November 1, 2017
Although Philly has clearly moved on from Okafor, and cut him from the rotation, the young big is still filled with talent — and there are teams reportedly interested in his services currently.
The Hawks and Bulls have emerged as the most likely destinations for Jahlil Okafor pic.twitter.com/6m6gdwTEQR
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 6, 2017
These are the top five destinations where Okafor can revitalize his career:
5.) Chicago Bulls
After losing All-Star guards Dwayne Wade and Jimmy Butler in the off-season, the Chicago Bulls are in full on rebuild mode. They are now turning to young players like Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn to lead the way for their team. Okafor would be great for what this team is trying to build. Markkanen and Okafor would make a great young frontcourt — a stretch four who likes to face-up and take jumpers, and a traditional big who likes to play with his back to the basket, and score on the block. Although Robin Lopez is still a serviceable big, he does not fit into the youth movement that Chicago is building. Chicago should pursue Okafor and create a young, dynamic frontcourt in the process.
The Oklahoma City Thunder already have an excellent big in Steven Adams, and they don’t really need any more scoring punch with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, right? Well, that’s just not true. The Thunder currently do not have one person coming off of the bench who is scoring even nine points per game. Patrick Patterson so far this season has underwhelmed tremendously as a scoring stretch four, and Dakari Johnson as the backup center is just not the answer. Okafor could step into the void that Enes Kanter left behind when he was traded to New York; instant scoring from the post, and much needed depth at the five. Oklahoma City would be a great place for Okafor to revitalize his career with minimal pressure.
3.) Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets are another young team who is still recovering from poor decisions from upper management. Their future is looking brighter though with the addition of D’Angelo Russell. The biggest weakness of this team right now is at the center position — and that’s where Okafor comes into play. Timofey Mozgov is averaging a putrid 5.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game at the starting center spot. Okafor would provide an immediate upgrade offensively, and because of the situation he is currently in, would be hungry to grab more rebounds and give more effort on the defensive end. A Russell/Okafor tandem would immediately be must-watch television.
The Los Angeles Lakers passed on Jahlil Okafor in the 2015 NBA Draft, and must still be regretting it till this day. They shipped Russell to Brooklyn after only two seasons wearing the purple and gold, and are still looking for a consistent answer at the center position. Current starting center Brook Lopez is signed to only a one-year deal. It would be unwise for Magic Johnson to re-sign him to a long term deal due to his chronic health issues. Okafor could provide Los Angeles with a long-term solution at his position, and give marquee free agents like LeBron James and Paul George some more incentive to sign with the team.
1.) Atlanta Hawks
After ten straight seasons of making the NBA playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks are building from scratch again. They have an excellent young point guard in Dennis Schröder, but have lost just too much after giving up both All-Star bigs, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard. Atlanta is the prime spot for Okafor to go to. They have no interior presence offensively, and he would get all the playing time and touches he wants under the tutelage of a former Coach of the Year in Mike Budenholzer. Atlanta is one of the teams that have already expressed interest in pursuing Okafor, and should do whatever it takes to get him. Shröder and Okafor would be a solid, young core to build around, and in the weak Eastern Conference, could turn things around sooner rather than later.