New Orleans picks up Jahlil Okafor’s option for 2019-20 season
Pelicans are picking up Jahlil Okafor’s team option for the 2019-2020 season, league sources tell ESPN. The New Orleans staff is impressed by the way Okafor has reworked his body and the improvements he’s made on the defensive end of the floor.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) June 20, 2019
Okafor, the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, was close to being out of the league after he failed to impress during his first three seasons. The Pelicans gave him what could’ve been his last shot at staying in the NBA, and Jahlil made sure to make the most out of it.
Okafor averaged 8.2 points and 4.7 rebounds last season. He also shot an impressive 58 percent from the field. He also finished the season strong, averaging 17.4 points and 7.9 rebounds. It seems that he’s starting to regain the confidence he once had, and this could be a good sign for the Pelicans.
Back in 2015, Okafor was considered as the best big man in his draft class. A lot of people even put him ahead of Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl Anthony-Towns, who was taken first overall that year. However, Jah struggled to adjust his game in the NBA. He was a horrible defender, and the offensive skill set that made scouts and team executives rave about him was almost non-existent.
After averaging 17 points in his rookie year with the Philadelphia 76ers, Okafor’s production steadily declined, especially when Joel Embiid came back from injury. The Sixers let him go in the middle of the 2017-18 season when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
He then played the rest of that season out before becoming a free agent and eventually joining the Pelicans.
Okafor showed flashes of his potential for New Orleans, which is why he’s being given another shot next season. With Anthony Davis no longer with the team, this could be the big break that Jah is hoping for to prove himself once again.