Time for Jahlil Okafor to shine with the Philadelphia 76ers

The 2015 NBA Draft was one of the most significant factors in recent memory for shaping the future of the teams that were involved in the lottery, and was as unpredictable as it was important.

The Philadelphia 76ers selected Jahlil Okafor with the third overall pick, which came as a surprise since he was a projected second pick behind Karl-Anthony Towns.  At the time, no team besides the Minnesota Timberwolves had made it abundantly clear who they were looking to target in the draft, so the rest of the first round quickly became a spontaneous selecting game for any accomplished players that were still on the board.

Okafor was certainly one of the top players in the draft, but did not get much of an opportunity to showcase his professional ability during his rookie year.  He was playing on a rebuilding team that was not yet established, and was relied on heavily to make a quick change.  Since he was the only new 76ers player that did not immediately suffer an injury going into the season, he had to handle it all himself.

Many doubts are filling the air about his NBA career and his future in Philadelphia.  Since there were several front court players selected after him that have already made an impact on their teams as early as their rookie year, the 76ers may be wondering if they made the right choice when drafting Okafor.  Trade rumors surrounding the NCAA champion started up last season around the trade deadline, but there were no official offers on the table that involved him.

The 76ers are an upcoming young team in the NBA and have a lot of potential going into this season, which may serve as the year with light at the end of the tunnel for Okafor.  How he plays along his new teammates will determine what type of player he will be in the league and what role he will fill during his time in Philadelphia.  The players that you have on the floor with you impact way you play and grow, so playing for a team that has the potential to become one of the best in the league in the near future may give him the boost he needs in order to take his career to the next level.

Also, it has been noted that Okafor has been working individually on his health this summer.  He has reportedly made an effort to cut weight in order to gain speed and agility.  He has made the transition to a mostly vegan diet and has focused more of his workouts toward improving his quickness on the court rather than his strength, which may help him excel in today’s fast-paced NBA.  This may have Okafor looking like a totally new player on the court this season, and could possibly be an effort to make a transition to the power forward position, where he can start next to Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, and Markelle Fultz.

Despite the rather slow start to his career, Okafor has the opportunity to make a substantial impact this season with the help of the rest of his teammates.  Encouragement from a successful team can go a long way, so this is something that the Sixers should keep in mind before they jump to a conclusion regarding a trade scenario.  He has a lot more time to prove himself; and with a fully healthy and talented team going into this season, that time may very well be now.

Yardbarker: NBA

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