The Thirteen Misfit Toys

2 of 14

Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) shoots during an NBA Summer League game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports


Jahlil Okafor

I’d say this one is a wrap. With Embiid nursing his foot injury for the second year, the team will certainly cast their latest and greatest NBA draft prospect in the role at center stage.  We know the story .  It was a three player draft and Okafor was the player remaining when we selected.  But sometimes the results come better than expected.  Sometimes you get someone at the right place at the right time doing the right things.   Perhaps that best describes Jahlil Okafor’s unpredictable arrival to the Sixer’s roster.

With Joel Embiid continuing to nurse an injured foot, Okafor comes to the team at just the right time.  Nerlens Noel had a successful premier in the NBA.  But he was more defensive than offensive powerhouse.   Tony Wroten was the leading scorer on the team, but his style of play places him under the basket getting fouled.  The problem?  He cannot sink a shot from the free throw line.  What the Sixers desperately need is a big man to post low, who can score and who can hit a free throw.   Hello Jahlil Okafor.

While it’s early, we had a sneak preview of the big man in action in the NBA summer league.  The big man averaged 15.8 points per game (PPG), 8.4 rebounds per game (RPG), and 1.4 assists per game (APG).  If those numbers hold, it would place him near the top on the roster offensively.  His presence near the boards will give Philly another fire tower to set up alongside Noel.

But it won’t be all roses and wine for the young man.   As we had pointed out, down low is a place that draws fouls, and with Okafor, his free throw accuracy of 39% begs for the opponent to hack at him constantly.  We had talked how turnovers killed the 76ers last season.  Okafor’s 4.6 turnovers per game is far too many and will need improvement for the team to have any chance at success.  Still, the biggest elephant in the room is the basic question:  can Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel coexist?

With a season still months away, the players have some time to address their weaknesses, and Okafor has areas to address. But he’s young, and each day and shot add to his experience, and that improves the player.   While we have been tempering the optimism, many fans will have none of that.   Perhaps Okafor will impress and exceed expectations.  But with so much optimism already flowing in the young man’s direction, that will require one helluva season.

Next: Nerlens Noel