A report out of Philadelphia speculates the 76ers will consider trading Jahlil Okafor which begs the question: should the Houston Rockets enter the conversation?
Given the Dwight Howard era is likely coming to an end his loss would leave a huge hole to fill at the Rockets center position. This had me pondering: Should the Houston Rockets make a trade for Okafor this summer?
Despite the nightclub incident that took place early this season, the 6’11 big man from Duke has had a successful rookie campaign. In fact, if it was not for the quick emergence of Timberwolves‘ Karl-Anthony Towns, Okafor may have been the top candidate for Rookie of the Year.
In just his first NBA season Okafor has shown the potential to become a great center in this league. Averaging 17.5 points, he has already established himself as a solid offensive player.
Sixers coach Brett Brown believes Okafor will develop into a great back-to-the-basket post threat; something the Rockets have not had since Yao Ming. (Come on Red Nation. No disrespect to Howard, but we all know his post-game isn’t too good.) As well as shooting 51.1 percent from 10-20 feet, Okafor also has a solid mid-range jumper for a big.
Just imagine how vulnerable Rockets opponents will become in a high pick and roll between Okafor and James Harden.
If Houston’s defenders double Harden off the pick, it would allow Harden to kick it out to an open Okafor for the shot. If their defenders decide not to double and pick up Okafor we all know what Harden is capable of in isolation offense.
Trading for Okafor would be a great move for the Rockets this summer. Unfortunately, it may come at a risk. For a team ranked 26th in points allowed Okafor is not someone who will help Houston’s defensive problems. When defending players Okafor is allowing his opponents to shoot 47.9 percent from the field.
However, there have been some games where Okafor played great defense. During the 76ers 119-103 loss to the Raptors, Okafor recorded a career-high four blocks. So his defensive game is something that should develop in due time, especially since centers tend to take longer than other players to excel defensively.
Unfortunately, the biggest risk in trading for Jahlil Okafor is his health.
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After Okafor suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee he underwent arthroscopic surgery forcing his rookie season to come to an unexpected end. So, it is uncertain how Okafor will respond after the injury. However, at 20-years old, it’s is this writer’s opinion Okafor will bounce back successfully. As an example of a young talent who underwent a similar hardship just take a look at Milwaukee Bucks’ sophomore sensation Jabari Parker.
So, in the case the Rockets lose Dwight Howard this summer Daryl Morey may want to take a look at Jahlil Okafor as a replacement. A 20-year old kid who has drawn the comparison to Tim Duncan sounds like a great move to me.
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