The Philadelphia 76ers knew they had something when they drafted Joel Embiid with the third pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, they didn’t get a chance to see how good Embiid would be against NBA talent until the 2016-17 season. He was unreal, and his play overshadowed the efforts of 2015-16 rookie of the year candidate Jahlil Okafor.
Okafor averaged 17.5 points on 51% shooting and seven rebounds per game in 53 games his rookie season. All the while Embiid was missing his second straight season with nagging foot injuries. Okafor gave 76ers fans something to cheer about. Unfortunately for him, Embiid gave them something to collectively lose their minds over, even in limited action, last season.
The former Duke player saw his minutes drastically decrease in his second season and his numbers all dwindled as a result. He has appeared in only one game this season, putting up a respectable line of 10 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes.
He is a great low post scorer in a league that is devaluing that trait and more each year, and has taken only six threes in his entire career (all in his rookie season). It hasn’t exactly made him an asset teams covet since he is still working to improve on the defensive end.
Despite that, the 76ers are still attempting to locate a suitor for Okafor, according to ESPN.
Sixers coach Brett Brown informed the local media on Friday that Okafor is currently out of the rotation and that the second-unit spot is Amir Johnson’s to lose. The front court logjam of Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric leaves Okafor expendable.
Okafor, 21, has a fourth-year option of $6.3 million that the Sixers have to make a decision on by Oct. 31. According to league sources, whether they pick it up or not depends on the trade discussions, but it’s likely that it’s exercised.
At the moment, there are no frontrunners, sources say.
If Okafor was born 20 years earlier, he might have dominated this league. The floor-spacing power forwards are taking over and it’s leaving Okafor stuck with a wealth of talent that teams are no longer prioritizing. If it were up to me, Okafor would have a place on my roster. Scoring off the bench — especially in tightly contested playoff series — is an asset few teams have.