Despite his incredible offensive skills, Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor has been often criticized for his poor defensive efforts. However, coach Brett Brown defends Okafor, believing that he’s still young and has a lot of room to grow.
“He is young and I think people sometimes have a hard time understanding how young he is,” Brown said Wednesday night o the 21-year-old. “There were times you saw the offensive brilliance tonight. Other times, you realize he has a long way to go defensively. He has been fantastic. He wants to be coached and I think he is getting better.”
Jahlil Okafor earned bunches of criticisms after showing little to no effort on the defensive end in their recent game against the Miami Heat. With more than three minutes remaining in the first quarter, Okafor didn’t even provide any resistance when Heat guard Goran Dragic drove inside the basket. Dragic missed the shot but Okafor didn’t bother to get the ball and allowed an easy offensive rebound to the 6’4″ Rodney McGruder.
Okafor only finished with six points seven rebounds, and one block on 27.3 percent shooting from the field. Hassan Whiteside took advantage of his defensive struggle and filled the stat sheet with 15 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, three assists, and one steal. Sixers’ fans understood that Okafor is still developing but he should definitely show why they should trust the process.
Poor defense decreases Jahlil Okafor’s trade value
Before the trade deadline, most people believed Okafor was the odd man out of the City of Brotherly Love. Several NBA teams expressed interests in acquiring him but the Sixers failed to make a deal. To address the logjam at center, the Sixers decided to re-engage Nerlens Noel in trade talks and succeeded to deal him to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Sixers really wanted to keep Noel than Okafor. He’s a much better defender who can play alongside Joel Embiid. Unfortunately, Noel will become a restricted free agent next summer and is expected to receive big offers from multiple NBA teams. As of now, the only thing they can do is to push Okafor to improve his defense.
Aside from rim protection, Tom West of Fanrag Sports Network suggests other areas that Jahlil Okafor needs to improve. These include defensive rebounding, range, passing, and mobility. With Embiid sidelined due to injury, Okafor should use the opportunity to prove himself. If he fails to show a major improvement, there is a possibility that he’ll be a subject of trade rumors once again in the offseason.
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