Jahlil Okafor’s Signing With Pelicans Is A Low Risk Move
Jahlil Okafor was the third overall pick in the 2015 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
He was supposed to be a part of the "trust the process" rebuild in Philly, but after a promising rookie season, inconsistent play and knee issues kept him from being a foundation piece.
In December, Philly traded him to Brooklyn.
Today, he officially signed with the New Orleans Pelicans to a partially guaranteed deal with a team option the following season. In other words, a deal that allows him to compete in training camp with an opportunity to make the team as a backup big.
At only 22, Jahlil Okafor, a distant cousin of backup Pelicans center Emeka Okafor, is seeking an opportunity to rejuvenate his career.
In his rookie season, he averaged 7.5 points and 7 rebounds, earning a spot on the NBA All-Rookie team. However, he tore meniscus in his knee with two months remaining in the season, not playing again until the following season.
Chronic knee soreness and a 76ers team looking to build around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons led to Okafor's end in Philly.
It possibly also squashed a trade that would've sent Okafor to New Orleans 18 months ago. Reports swirled the teams were working on a trade, but it fell through due to rumors of Okafor failing a physical. Reports of a failed physical were never official, but with the lingering knee issue, it's a strong possibility.
Okafor's deal is low risk for the Pelicans.
He lost 20 pounds this summer and spent ample time reworking on his jump shot.
In a team that wants to run and push the pace offensively, Okafor doesn't factor in as a major player, but as a backup big, he could be an upgrade over Emeka, Alexis Ajinca, and possibly Chieck Diallo.
For Jahlil Okafor, this could very well be his last opportunity at an NBA roster spot.
If his game hasn't improved, and the knee issues linger, he'll be cut after training camp. If his jump shot is rejuvenated and the weight loss triggers an upgrade in his game, the Pelicans improve their bench.
Low risk. Moderate reward.