Brooklyn Nets center Jahlil Okafor has had a tough last couple of years finding playing time, despite his talents. Now only two weeks close to the start of his offseason, the 6-foot-11 big man will have to face a murky market for his services, lacking the routine playing time to market himself to NBA teams.
The former Duke standout could consider many things during free agency, including winning, contract length, or style of play as a back-to-the-basket big man.
“I think all that goes into it, but honestly I have no experience with this whatsoever,” Okafor admitted, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. “I'm just trying to finish the season strong, and then I have a lot of guidance from people who have dealt with what I'm going to deal with. I really don't know what to expect, but at the end of the day, I want to play basketball.”
Okafor has seen his minutes fluctuate since making his debut for the Nets back on Dec. 15, when he posted 10 points, four rebounds, and a steal in a promising 22 minutes of play.
Since then, he was held out of nine straight games while working on his all-around conditioning, then appearing in 21 straight games, but only seeing 20-plus minutes in three of them, while getting a mere single-digit run in seven.
He posted 6.0 points and 2.9 rebounds across 12.7 minutes per game during that stretch, but a calf injury, an illness, and numerous DNP-coach's decisions have kept him out of the court — making his market that much tougher to gauge.
His head coach Kenny Atkinson admitted to Okafor being in a tough position due to his scarce playing time this season.
“He’s had a little window of opportunity,” he said, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “We haven’t given him a great opportunity, a great section of play where you say, ‘Man, here’s 30, 40 games.’ That’s part circumstances. You’d have more information if he had a training camp and he had a longer time period, he’d be much more acclimated.”
Okafor has been a healthy scratch in two of the past five games but has only managed to average 8.3 minutes of play.