Oct 28, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) blocks a shot by Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart (36) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Pelicans are reportedly in discussions with free-agent center Jahlil Okafor, according to Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate:

Multiple sources have said the Pelicans are discussions with C Jahlil Okafor on a deal to bring him in for training camp.

Nothing formalized at this point but certainly an interesting, low-risk option for the Pelicans who lack a traditional center at the moment.

Okafor, 22, played in just 28 games last season in stints with the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, averaging 6.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per contest.

Okafor’s NBA career started strong on the court, as he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game during the 2015-16 campaign. But Joel Embiid’s debut the next season relegated Okafor to the bench, where he found himself battling for minutes with Nerlens Noel and Richaun Holmes.

Okafor still posted 11.8 points per game, but he only appeared in 50 contests.

Last season, it became clear Okafor wasn’t a part of the team’s long-term plans, as head coach Brett Brown favored veteran Amir Johnson off the bench behind Embiid.

While Okafor’s ability to score in the post has never been questioned, that skill set has never particularly endeared him to the modern NBA, which puts more of an emphasis on big men who can protect the rim, run the floor and hit shots from deep.

Okafor doesn’t check off those boxes, and the fact that he has never proven to be a particularly good passer out of the post means that he’s often a ball-stopper on offense. Were he a more complete offensive weapon who facilitated for his teammates and chit perimeter shots, his defensive liabilities might be easier to overlook for many teams, especially in a bench role.

But Okafor is also still young with room to grow, a fact that New Orleans may be banking on if it signs him. Anthony Davis is set to start at center alongside Nikola Mirotic at power forward, with Julius Randle perhaps coming off the bench in a hybrid role.

The Pelicans lack quality depth beyond those three, however, meaning Okafor could carve out a nice niche for himself if he’s able to evolve his game. For the Pelicans, that possibility makes bringing him into training camp a potentially worthwhile move.

Courtesy: Bleacher Report


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