Could Jahlil Okafor’s Late Season Injury Destroy His Trade Value?


After having another injury stricken season, will the Philadelphia 76ers ever be able to recoup Jahlil Okafor‘s trade value if he continues to miss time?

The Philadelphia 76ers‘ desire to trade Jahlil Okafor may be the worst-kept secret in all of basketball. Since the day he was drafted, fans, pundits and bloggers alike have questioned his fit on the team’s roster, and ultimately concluded that his selection must have been a part of some greater plan.

Don’t get me wrong, Jahlil Okafor was highly touted coming out of college, viewed by many as a throwback center who could score 20 points in his sleep, but taking the best player available for 3 years straight can lead to a very unbalanced roster.

In his elaborate letter of resignation, Sam Hinkie described the selection of Jahlil Okafor as a backup plan in case Joel Embiid’s foot never healed, but heal it did. Joel Embiid took the NBA by storm this season, and could very well go down as the first player in NBA history to win Rookie of the Year and play in less than 50 games.

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Though his season ended prematurely, Joel Embiid is without a doubt the new face of the Sixers franchise, and thus Jahlil is no longer needed on the roster. The only problem is his trade value.

Though Jahlil Okafor was drafted essentially to be traded at a later date, his trade value has taken a nosedive since coming out of Duke. You’d assume a center that has appeared in the NBA Rising Stars Game twice and has averaged 15 points per game over his career would retain his value fairly well, but that has simply not been the case. Jahlil has been criticized since college for his lackluster efforts on defense, an issue that has persisted to this day.

In addition to his poor defense, Okafor is simply not athletic enough to thrive in the modern NBA fast break. Jahlil is an anchor who does the bulk of his damage from within the paint. In order to optimize his effectiveness, a team would need to run their game through Okafor, not expect him to complement an existing system.

A number of teams were interested in Okafor’s services at the trade deadline, but the 76ers could not find a team to match their asking price. Jahlil can be a starting center in this league for a long time, but for him to get that opportunity he will need to improve his trade value. That may ultimately prove to be the hard part.

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In order for the 76ers to get a quality piece back for Okafor, he will need to take his game to the next level, but unfortunately for everyone involved, this can’t be done from the bench. Once Nerlens Noel was traded to the Mavericks and Joel Embiid was ruled out for the remainder of the season, it looked like it would be Jahlil’s chance to shine, at least it until he reinjured his knee against the Pistons.

Though the injury doesn’t appear to be season ending, it has sidelined him for almost a week, and according to Brett Brown, his minutes will be heavily restricted on the 76ers current road trip. If the team planned on trading Okafor during the NBA draft, it will be nearly impossible for them to get a better deal than they received at the trade deadline if Okafor is unable to show improvement in his game due to a heavy minute restriction.

While this season has been far from ideal for Jahlil Okafor, he has without a doubt taken it like a professional. Whenever asked by reporters about his position on the team, he has always played the role of a patient soldier and put the team’s needs before his own. But can the 76ers really expect Jahlil to remain patient for another season of sporadic play?

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Jahlil Okafor has been the best player on every team he has ever played for. From being a 5-star college recruit, to winning the NCAA national championship in his lone college season, Okafor simply isn’t going to let his prime to go waste on the bench. Once Joel Embiid stepped foot on an NBA court, it became crystal clear that Jahlil was not long for the team, but continuing to bet on a depreciating asset is simply unwise. Though he may never regain his top 3 value, Jahlil Okafor needs to show that he is a rising talent in the NBA, a feat that simply can’t be accomplished from the bench.