Alvin Gentry hints Jahlil Okafor might return soon
Buckle up, everyone: the Jahlil Okafor experience might be getting ready for takeoff in New Orleans and Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry is preparing us for the possibility, according to Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes:
“I think you’ll see him soon. Obviously, we’re in a situation now where we’re depleted from a big guy standpoint. He’s worked extremely hard, I’ll tell you that. He’s worked as hard as anybody every single day he comes in here.”
The Pelicans signed Okafor back in August but he hasn’t seen the floor much since.
Overall, Okafor has played in just 13 games this season, averaging 2.8 points per game, but now, with Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle both sidelined with injuries, it might finally be Okafor’s time to shine.
The 23-year-old, who played his collegiate basketball at Duke University, was originally selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the third overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft.
Known for his polished back-to-the-basket game, Okafor was considered one of the more NBA-ready prospects in that draft class.
Unfortunately, Okafor was entering the league at a time where post play was dying and space-and-pace was beginning to reign king, leaving him out in the cold.
As a result, his impact on the Sixers was largely negative in spite of posting solid counting stats of 17.5 points and seven boards per game during his rookie campaign.
After some knee issues and just poor play overall, Philadelphia ran out of patience with Okafor last year, trading him to the Brooklyn Nets. However, Okafor was unable to get off the bench for the Nets, and New Orleans signed him this summer.