The former member of the Brooklyn Nets, Jahlil Okafor, is ready to try to revive his career out West, having agreed to a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans.
The two sides recently agreed on a deal, per ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, with a partial guarantee for this season and a team option for the second year.
Okafor started off his career with some impressive performances. Even though his team really struggled throughout the entire 2015-16 season, Okafor managed to earn All-Rookie First Team honors.
What he really struggled with was the fact that he had off-court issues. Okafor was involved in a street fight in Boston that resulted in him getting suspended by the team for two games.
With Philly wanting to avoid unnecessary drama during this rebuilding process, Okafor’s future with the team was in doubt. Add that to both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons returning from their respective injuries and all of a sudden, Jahlil Okafor’s spot on the team did not even exist.
About a month after the start of the 2017-18 NBA season, his spell with the 76ers finally came to an end after being traded to the Brooklyn Nets, a team with no hopes of making the playoffs. It seemed like the perfect place for him to revive his career.
Sadly for Okafor, he struggled to even be a part of Brooklyn’s rotation. He averaged just 6.4 points along with 2.9 rebounds per game in just over 12 minutes of play. To top it all off, during the four-month period in which he was a member of the Nets, Okafor did not even get one start, as head coach Kenny Atkinson seemed to prefer Timofey Mozgov, Tyler Zeller and rookie Jarrett Allen.
So what can Okafor realistically achieve with the New Orleans Pelicans?
With the departure of DeMarcus Cousins, the team’s only superstar, Anthony Davis, will likely be moving to the starting center spot. New signing Julius Randle or stretch-4 Nikola Mirotic will take over the other big man spot, making Jahlil Okafor a bench piece once again.
Okafor’s luck with the team may depend on whether head coach Alvin Gentry decides to start Nikola Mirotic at the small forward spot or not. We have already seen Mirotic play the power forward spot quite successfully during the 2018 NBA Playoffs, meaning that it wouldn’t come as a surprise to many if he continued playing there.
However, if Mirotic is assigned to the starting small forward spot, Okafor could play a vital role for the Pelicans. He would have to outplay two players in order to have the most playing time among them.
The first one is another young forward/center, Cheick Diallo. He is a player that served as a backup to DeMarcus Cousins last season, averaging 4.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 11.2 minutes per game. The young big man will look to snatch every opportunity he gets this season, with his starting superstar out of the picture.
The second “foe” to Jahlil Okafor would have to be Emeka Okafor, who happens to be his distant cousin. Emeka is a very experienced NBA veteran that was signed by the team in order to fill the shoes left by Cousins a couple of days after he was injured. One thing we can say with certainty is that those Thanksgiving family dinners are about to get pretty awkward for the Okafors.
Could this be Jahlil’s third and last chance in the NBA? Possibly. All he seems to need is a little bit of motivation to revive his career and reach the level we have already seen him play. All he can do for now is play out of his mind during the training camps and hope Alvin Gentry sees the potential in him.