Who Backs Up Jahlil Okafor


Who Backs UP Jahlil Okafor?

It’s getting closer. The NBA season is approaching, and with a lack of much to be excited about on either the baseball or football fronts, there is certainly reason to feel a little optimism this year. We’ll see the first round draft pick on the floor this season, and he’ll be paired with Nerlens Noel.  The Sixers have questions to resolve.  Who backs up Jahlil Okafor?  How many minutes do you pair Noel and Okafor up in a game?  So many questions.

How will the Sixers pull that duo together cohesively on the court? That’s a work in process:

But that in itself causes more questions. You see, despite all the talk of deep front court now, the setback of Joel Embiid to likely be out all of this season is a tremendous burden on the team. Why? Despite the team solidifying it’s center role with the unexpected drafting of Jahlil Okafor, they have a shortage of minutes to rotate at the five spot. Speaking today, Brown was asked who starts in that front court if he had to make the call right now:

So the backup to center is also the starter at power forward.   And if that is the case, and with focusing on minutes at the center position, how do you slice it?

If you use the 2014 season as a template, the team will likely parse out minutes at center as follows:

Center Jahlil Okafor

6′ 11″ 275 pound Okafor will likely average between 30-40 minutes per game.  How much of that time will be alongside Noel?  It depends on who he develops chemistry with, as they have very complimentary skills.  If Noel’s effort to develop a mid range shot finds success, that could be 15-20 minutes together.

Center-Forward Nerlens Noel

6′ 11″ 228 pound Noel will have the “first dibs” on the power forward role alongside Okafor.  But his minutes at the four will be managed to give him plenty of opportunity to rotate to the five spot.   Noel brings a stronger defense and blocked shot to the court, and would likely be center to a stronger shooting four.  Sliding into the center role for about 10-15 minutes per game will give Okafor sufficient rest and keep Noel from burning out in his dual role.

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Forward-Center Furkan Aldemir

6’10” 240 pound Aldemir will be the likely third man in the rotation to center.   He brings a solid rebounding game that will likely resemble that of Noel,   His 2014 season was one of limited minutes, but with the second season it’s hoped that he can bolster his offense to compliment his defense.  In either case, look for him to shoulder an equal 10-15 minutes per game.

Even if he remains “just a rebounder”, he elevates the team on both the defensive and offensive boards, which would blend nicely to the compliment of perimeter shooting the team is seeking to develop this season.

Aldemir’s lack of offense at the post cannot be ignored, but with a squad that includes guard Tony Wroten and Robert Covington, the lanes to the basket would be wide open for Wroten’s slashing style. Aldemir would be set to grab the ball and feed back to Covington for the long range.

Center Joel Embiid – 

7′-0″ 250 pound Embiid will certainly be out for the entire 2015-16 season with a second surgery to his foot.   But while the focus has been on his feet, Embiid has also had sufficient time to rehab nagging back injuries that have plagued him.  He will likely earn 0 minutes on the court this season.

Despite rehabbing for the first two season of his young NBA career,  he remains young enough to have a very long and celebrated future in basketball.

Forward Richaun Holmes – 

6’10” 245 pound Holmes could pick up some minutes at the center position in a pinch.  While he won’t tower over NBA players in the fashion he did during his collegiate days at Bowling Green, his height and 7’2″ wingspan should give him enough “space” to generate blocks and rebounds.   While his forte’ is defense, with sufficient gym time and practice, he could assemble some nice shots to keep his minutes productive as well.   He could earn as much as 0-15 minutes at the center position.

I posed the question to Tom Moore, Sixers beat writer for Calkins Media, and he concured.

Right now, the Sixers are looking at a team featuring newly drafted Jahlil Okafor. But the key to the team will be the aggregate play of the team at that center position. Defensively, we should play well. Hopefully, Noel has upped his game on offense to give the team more punch at the position this season.

To win more games this year, we’ll need points. There’s no way around it.

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