Jahlil Okafor
Jahlil Okafor has resurrected his career with the Pelicans (Brett Duke/Nola.com)

When Jahlil Okafor was playing at Duke, I thought he was a can’t miss guy. While the center position was becoming less important in the NBA, it was hard to find a guy like Jah who dominated offensively in the post. He was going to be a polished scoring for a long time in the NBA. When Jah got drafted by the 76ers, he did exactly that. He scored but wasn’t doing much of anything else. Philly ghosted him rather quick. Okafor was on the path of becoming a bust and out of the league. I think it’s time to make you aware that Okafor has found a way to resurrect his career with New Orleans.

Okafor got lost in the shuffle. He wasn’t dominating the way Philly wanted and they already had too many big men on the roster. There was no need for him on the roster with Joel Embiid already on it. Still, Philly ghosted him despite averaging 17.5 points per game as a rookie. They got basically nothing back for a player they took with the 3rd pick in the draft who averaged 17.5 points per game as a 20-year-old rookie. Doesn’t that seem odd?

Okafor lost some confidence for a while, but now he’s back. He’s playing just shy of 20 minutes a night and scoring 10 points per game. He’s also converting 61 percent from the floor. Okafor has developed an NBA body and can now stick on the floor. Maybe he’s not Anthony Davis, but Okafor is starting to prove he can be a viable starting center. I think his ceiling may be higher than that.

We give up on players too soon in the NBA. Okafor was rotting away in Philly as a 20-year-old high lottery pick. That just feels wrong. Now that Okafor is 24, he feels like a viable contributor. There are just some things you can’t teach. Jah is one of the most polished low post scorers that are out there. Don’t forget it. That tape doesn’t lie.

There are still things Jah needs to work on. Better defense and playmaking out of the post would be a nice place to start. However, when Okafor gets to his spot down low, he can really bully defenders. It’s a valuable skillset to have. He’s getting better and better with the Pelicans. It’s time to start thinking of Okafor as a building block rather than a lost cause.

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