Jahlil Okafor Needs To Take A Page Out Of Anthony Davis’ Book


The Philadelphia 76ers are obviously on a long term plan to repair the franchise. Part of this process is bringing in young talent and developing them into players who can help contend deep in the playoffs. Previously, lottery picks have been extremely disappointing for them, as Joel Embiid recently went out for the season and still has not seen a game floor. Their first round lottery pick from two years ago Michael Carter-Williams is no longer with the Sixers.

More from The Sixer Sense

Now, it’s somewhat in the hands of this year’s lottery pick, Jahlil Okafor. Okafor was taken third in the first round of the draft, and was seen as one of the best players available this year. Okafor is supposed to be a moving piece and part of the answer as the Sixers desperately look to revitalize the franchise.

When looking at Okafor, and his style of play, it’s tough to not be reminded of another young big man in the NBA, Anthony Davis. Both have a high flying, athletic style of play. They’re big men, but still quick and agile.

The offensive portion of these two videos displays very well just how similar these two big men can be. Of course, they aren’t identical, but I’m reminded of Okafor when I see videos of Davis play. They both absolutely dominate anyone who tries to defend them one on one in the paint.

The defense is one obvious thing that Davis does better, and that’s already one improvement we know we need to see from Okafor coming into the season.

ALSO ON SIXER SENSE: Predicting The Sixers Starting Lineup

Davis is a prime example of how Okafor needs to take charge and set the tone for his career early on. Let’s take a look at how Davis utilized momentum to take his team from nothing to something in three straight years.

The key to the Pelicans quick return to the playoffs was Anthony Davis’ quick immersion in the league. He was quickly recognized as a leader, and given minutes. He didn’t waste these, averaging 13.5 points and over 8 rebounds per game. While this is impressive, it only set the tone for the next few seasons. In every year since his rookie season, Davis has either improved, or remained consistent in the points, rebounds, and assists category.

This past year his 24.4 points per game pushed New Orleans to their first playoff visit in five years. It wasn’t a cake walk to get in either, they had to really wrestle for the final spot in a very competitive Western Conference.

It’s clear to see that the reason the Pelicans were able to get in the playoffs this quickly was due to some hard work, but largely owed to a bold start from Davis. There wasn’t room for timidness.

Luckily, from Okafor, timidness won’t be an issue that catalyzes a slow start. Coming off of just his freshman year, he wasn’t intimidated by being a new player to Duke. He came out and played great all year, averaging 17.3 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game.

Of course, these stats might not translate to the NBA perfectly, and that’s fine. It is a hope that he is able to be a strong presence as a big man on the team however. With him being projected to be on the starting lineup and getting lots of minutes, I don’t think it’s “crazy” to expect him to match those numbers.

Even if he can’t, Davis has proven that you can drastically improve from your rookie season to your sophomore, as he improved is points by seven per game in his second season.

Okafor has his work cut out for him, at the moment. Davis struggled and took years to lead the Pelicans to the playoffs partially because of how competitive the Western Conference is. The East hasn’t been that competitive in recent years. Even the worst teams in the West would be in contention in the East.

After a few years of more rebuilding, and Okafor getting better as a professional basketball player, there should be no trouble at all for him to lead the Sixers to the playoffs, especially if he lays a strong base for his career.

As he puts down a foundation this season, he’s not only doing so for his career, he’s doing so for the entire next step of the Sixers franchise. Okafor could be the difference between the playoffs being a near-site goal, and a far-site goal. When all other lottery picks have busted so far, Okafor has expectations. Don’t let the fans down, Jahlil.

Next: Have The Sixers Been Deceiving About Embiid?