When the Philadelphia 76ers selected Jahlil Okafor with the third pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, he instantly became the centerpiece of their rebuilding team.
Just a couple seasons later, he completely fell out of coach Brett Brown’s rotation, clearly an outsider in “The Process” that captivated the city of Philadelphia as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons became the co-stars of the future.
Although Okafor dealt with a few injuries during his short pro career, his production didn’t indicate that he was undeserving of playing time.
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After averaging 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 30.0 minutes per contest over 53 games as a rookie in 2015-2016, Okafor played just 22.7 minutes per game last season, averaging a modest 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds over 50 appearances.
This season, the Sixers were hesitant to put him on the floor while searching for a trade partner. In two games, he averaged 5.0 points and 4.5 boards in 12.5 minutes.
On Thursday, the seemingly never-ending saga finally came to a close when Philadelphia traded Okafor and Nik Stauskas to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for power forward Trevor Booker.
After averaging 9.5 points in 27.4 minutes per contest over 80 contests last season, Stauskas appeared in only six games for the Sixers this year, as he was behind a slew of others at his position on the depth chart. Officially, over six games, he put up 0.7 points in 7.5 minutes per contest.
Booker was arguably in the midst of his most productive NBA season over his eight-year career. The Nets decided to let him go despite his efficient averages of 10.1 points and 6.6 boards in just 21.9 minutes per contest.
It seems as though both sides will benefit from the deal.
“Trevor Booker has been a solid and competitive two-way contributor at every NBA stop. Trevor’s abilities should complement our style of play and his experience should add to our bench depth with playoff contention in mind,” said 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo in an official statement after the trade was completed. “Jahlil and Nik are both quality young men with talent that should keep them productive in this league a long time. We hope they find more opportunity in Brooklyn this season and thank them for their contributions over the past few years.”
Booker should add even more depth in the frontcourt for the 76ers and will perhaps knock veteran Amir Johnson out of the rotation as a result. But, most of the excitement comes on the other end of the deal, where Okafor will likely see major minutes once again.
“We are excited about the prospects of both Jahlil and Nik, as well as adding another future asset which will aid us in our continued roster development,” said Nets general manager Sean Marks in an official statement. “This trade provides us with a good opportunity to bring in two young players who were high picks in recent drafts and give them a chance to succeed in our system. We would also like to thank Trevor, Sean and their families for all of their contributions to our team and the Brooklyn community.”
Okafor will likely be eased into a starting role for the rebuilding Nets. Given the opportunity that he should receive, there might not have been a better possible destination for him to end up.
Best of all, a former teammate (and comedian) of Okafor had some hilarious parting words for him:
At just 21 years old, it will be refreshing to see Okafor back on the floor for extended minutes, as he still has a whole career ahead of him.