Jahlil Okafor Playing To Avoid Bust Label; New Orleans Pelicans Will Benefit

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans
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The New Orleans Pelicans are giving Jahlil Okafor one last opportunity to show his top of the lottery talent. It's been years since Okafor was considered for the top pick in the draft but he finally appears ready to run with the opportunity. He must, as one more lackluster season and he may not be considered for much beyond the last seat on an NBA bench.

Okafor is one of the Pelicans' Duke contingent. Only J.J. Redick has been departed from Durham for longer. Still, the game has changed since Okafor entered the league as a possibly great back to the basket brawler. So fast in fact, he never got to capitalize on his low post potential.

Workout videos are the best summer currency to keep the fans invested, especially for players trying to prove themselves. Okafor has yet to go full Carmelo Anthony but a video was recently posted showing his new face-up moves. He has improved handles and can dribble into a shot along the baseline. The ability to create space for a soft ten-foot jumper will serve him well.

Okafor can hit three-pointers now as well, but doing it now makes little difference concerning his league reputation. Showing these moves in the regular season games to come matters most. Okafor needs to shoot a career-best percentage from deep this season, or this midsummer magic video will be exposed as a Melo -type mirage.

Okafor is still a young player in the middle of his development. He is closer in age to Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart than Jrue Holiday or J.J. Redick. Still only 23 years old, Okafor is on his third team in as many years but just four years older than Jaxson Hayes.

It is never a good sign for a top lottery pick with four years of experience when your third team has already drafted a replacement. However, Zion Williamson fits well next to either of the young center tandem. It is not hard to imagine a future with Hayes and Okafor splitting the big man minutes.

Okafor is technically a project started by the past regime. David Griffin and the rest of the front office could cut ties with Okafor with minimal downside. Even Okafor's salary hit of less than $2 million would be hardly noticed. However, when the Pelicans consider their young core, many in the room see the benefit of including Okafor with Ingram, Ball, and Williamson.

Those four are all top three NBA draft picks. No other team can claim to have that level of young talent. Giving up on Okafor too early is a real concern. Okafor has yet to look comfortable but has been difficult while being shuttled into experimental lineups with several teams. A second season under Alvin Gentry will bring the stability that Okafor needs to play with the confidence of a top pick.

Perhaps he is just going to round into form later than draftmate Karl Anthony-Towns. Okafor has great athleticism for a big man, and the wingspan to use his bounce effectively. He just has to gain a bit more knowledge on how to use those skills. His chance to challenge Anthony-Towns will come soon enough.

Derrick Favors can help guide Okafor down an unusual path to stardom. Both big men have been humbled by the NBA game. Okafor was exposed by the most drastic rebuilding project in professional sports, inconsistent coaching directives and overwhelming matchups. Favors was an unselfish teammate of perhaps the center in the game, Rudy Gobert.

Gobert is the reigning NBA Defender of the Year. Okafor could always bully his way on the offensive block again most reserves but top-end talent has been able to stifle his moves. Okafor has little success shutting down anyone on defense.

When Okafor is contained on offense, he gets tunnel vision to prove himself. As the years have passed he has slowly started learning that opening his eyes to the rest of the game would be a better approach. He would look more talented and his team would benefit. His passing stats should benefit from his new face-up game.

Okafor is evolving his offensive game. New Orleans saw Okafor learning new defensive skills in every game. The DRAYMOND metric rates Okafor as a top 40 defender in some situations. Okafor has matured from the teenager who entered the league and been an outspoken voice in advocating for mental health issues. He has put more than just a few hoops skills together; he has put his life together and that level of condifence will show on the court.

Jahlil Okafor showed the Pelicans decision-makers enough progress to exercise the team option in his contract. He has been exercising his mind and body and is ready to enter his prime competitive years. The Pelicans will be able to offer his enough minutes for him to have a breakout season.

He has kept his head up so far. Reaching his potential ceiling would enable him to face his NBA future with a renewed spirit and rebuilt reputation to go along with a more modern game. Okafor would then get double the salary in his next contract.

Okafor had a career year last season, especially when asked to fill in after Anthony Davis' trade demand saga began. He is more than capable of matching his per-36 and per-100 averages while logging more minutes. The worst part of Okafor having his best possible season would the possibility of pricing himself out of the Pelicans market next summer.

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The New Orleans Pelicans are giving Jahlil Okafor one last opportunity to show his top of the lottery talent. It's been years since Okafor was considered for the top pick in the draft but he finally appears ready to run with the opportunity. He must, as one more lackluster season and he may not be considered for much beyond the last seat on an NBA bench.

Okafor is one of the Pelicans' Duke contingent. Only J.J. Redick has been departed from Durham for longer. Still, the game has changed since Okafor entered the league as a possibly great back to the basket brawler. So fast in fact, he never got to capitalize on his low post potential.

Workout videos are the best summer currency to keep the fans invested, especially for players trying to prove themselves. Okafor has yet to go full Carmelo Anthony but a video was recently posted showing his new face-up moves. He has improved handles and can dribble into a shot along the baseline. The ability to create space for a soft ten-foot jumper will serve him well.

Okafor can hit three-pointers now as well, but doing it now makes little difference concerning his league reputation. Showing these moves in the regular season games to come matters most. Okafor needs to shoot a career-best percentage from deep this season, or this midsummer magic video will be exposed as a Melo -type mirage.

Okafor is still a young player in the middle of his development. He is closer in age to Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart than Jrue Holiday or J.J. Redick. Still only 23 years old, Okafor is on his third team in as many years but just four years older than Jaxson Hayes.

It is never a good sign for a top lottery pick with four years of experience when your third team has already drafted a replacement. However, Zion Williamson fits well next to either of the young center tandem. It is not hard to imagine a future with Hayes and Okafor splitting the big man minutes.

Okafor is technically a project started by the past regime. David Griffin and the rest of the front office could cut ties with Okafor with minimal downside. Even Okafor's salary hit of less than $2 million would be hardly noticed. However, when the Pelicans consider their young core, many in the room see the benefit of including Okafor with Ingram, Ball, and Williamson.

Those four are all top three NBA draft picks. No other team can claim to have that level of young talent. Giving up on Okafor too early is a real concern. Okafor has yet to look comfortable but has been difficult while being shuttled into experimental lineups with several teams. A second season under Alvin Gentry will bring the stability that Okafor needs to play with the confidence of a top pick.

Perhaps he is just going to round into form later than draftmate Karl Anthony-Towns. Okafor has great athleticism for a big man, and the wingspan to use his bounce effectively. He just has to gain a bit more knowledge on how to use those skills. His chance to challenge Anthony-Towns will come soon enough.

Derrick Favors can help guide Okafor down an unusual path to stardom. Both big men have been humbled by the NBA game. Okafor was exposed by the most drastic rebuilding project in professional sports, inconsistent coaching directives and overwhelming matchups. Favors was an unselfish teammate of perhaps the center in the game, Rudy Gobert.

Gobert is the reigning NBA Defender of the Year. Okafor could always bully his way on the offensive block again most reserves but top-end talent has been able to stifle his moves. Okafor has little success shutting down anyone on defense.

When Okafor is contained on offense, he gets tunnel vision to prove himself. As the years have passed he has slowly started learning that opening his eyes to the rest of the game would be a better approach. He would look more talented and his team would benefit. His passing stats should benefit from his new face-up game.

Okafor is evolving his offensive game. New Orleans saw Okafor learning new defensive skills in every game. The DRAYMOND metric rates Okafor as a top 40 defender in some situations. Okafor has matured from the teenager who entered the league and been an outspoken voice in advocating for mental health issues. He has put more than just a few hoops skills together; he has put his life together and that level of condifence will show on the court.

Jahlil Okafor showed the Pelicans decision-makers enough progress to exercise the team option in his contract. He has been exercising his mind and body and is ready to enter his prime competitive years. The Pelicans will be able to offer his enough minutes for him to have a breakout season.

He has kept his head up so far. Reaching his potential ceiling would enable him to face his NBA future with a renewed spirit and rebuilt reputation to go along with a more modern game. Okafor would then get double the salary in his next contract.

Okafor had a career year last season, especially when asked to fill in after Anthony Davis' trade demand saga began. He is more than capable of matching his per-36 and per-100 averages while logging more minutes. The worst part of Okafor having his best possible season would the possibility of pricing himself out of the Pelicans market next summer.

I have covered Louisiana high school and college basketball in spurts for a decade. A basketball lifer from the bayou, I’ve reached the big leagues by writing about the ...