Jahlil Okafor expected to be ready for season opener
Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor may have had surgery on his right knee last March to repair a small meniscus tear, but all signs are pointing to him being ready to suit up for the team’s season opener on October 26, as confirmed by the team’s head coach, Brett Brown.
Brown said he still expects Okafor to play opening night. He doesn't think Noel will be ready.
— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoCSN) October 15, 2016
This is certainly good news for the Philly faithful who lost this year’s top overall pick, Ben Simmons, to an injury and will need to sit out the first three months of the season. With Okafor expected to be back in their fold, it will be interesting to see if he will be asked to start immediately despite the team’s frontline depth thanks to Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and Richaun Holmes.
The 20-year-old Duke product had a very promising rookie season last year where he averaged 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 30.0 minutes per game. He finished fifth in votes for the Rookie of the Year award and made it to the All-Rookie First Team.
Since he missed last season’s final 28 games, coupled with the arrival of Embiid, Saric, and Simmons, Okafor might feel like he has a chip on his shoulder and will work to prove his worth to the team.
There has been a lot of talk on the 76ers’ desire to trade one or two of their young big men to clear the log-jam they have created in their frontline, and if the last year’s third overall pick wants to remain in Philadelphia, he’ll need to play close to the level he did last season or even take it a notch higher in 2016-2017.