Should the Houston Rockets Make a Push for Jahlil Okafor?
By Coty Davis
While they have emerged as one of the top teams in the NBA, the Houston Rockets are still in need for a solid presence in the middle. With Jahlil Okafor on the block, should the Rockets make a push for the second year player?
As All-Star Weekend quickly approaches, it has been one magical first half for the Houston Rockets. They are heading into the break with the third-best record in the NBA and seem poised to continue their dominance during the second have of the season.
Houston has beaten each the top two Western Conference powerhouses once this season. In a seven-game series, though, it is unsure if the Rockets will have enough firepower to get past the Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs.
Despite their first half success, the Rockets are still one piece away from becoming a legit title contender. With the trading deadline just ten days away, perhaps Daryl Morey should try to make a move. Not one that would completely demolish their current roster, but one that is safe and could take them to the next level.
With that said, the Rockets should try and strike up a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to send Jahlil Okafor to Houston.
Due to the emergence of Joel Embiid, Okafor has been one of the hottest trade targets around the league. For a player like Okafor, it may be worth it for the Rockets to look into, now and in the future.
This is not only the best roster move for a team who is in need for a solid presence in the middle, but the safest. With both players on cheap contracts, the Rockets could swap K.J. McDaniels and a first round pick for the potential All-Star.
Since entering the league in 2015, Okafor has established himself as one of the top young stars in the league. In fact, if it were not for the astounding emergence from the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, some could argue Okafor was the top candidate for Rookie of the Year honors last year.
In his first season, he was the leading scorer for the 76ers. Sure, Philadelphia has not had a dominating scorer since Allen Iverson. But still, Okafor’s 17.5 points per game should not go overlooked.
After KAT, DeMarcus Cousins, and Anthony Davis, Okafor could arguably become the next great big man in the association. He’s young enough to develop an outside shot, and has the frame to body opponents down low.
It would be extremely beneficial for the Rockets to have another big that could score the ball efficiently. Where Clint Capela‘s FG% drops almost 40% when he shoots from beyond three feet from the basket, Okafor’s drops only about 27%. Just Imagine how unstoppable Houston’s high pick-and-roll would become between Okafor and James Harden.
If defenders doubled Harden when coming off the pick, Okafor would have all the space in the world to score. On the other hand, if they decided not to double off the pick from Okafor, well, we all know how deadly The Beard is in isolation.
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Trading for Okafor would be a great move for the Rockets this season. Unfortunately, it would come at a risk. For a team ranked 24th in points allowed, Okafor is not someone who would help Houston’s defensive problems. Yet, with defensive coordinator Jeff Bzedlik, Okafor could still develop into a solid defensive player.
So, if the Rockets are looking to make an effective trade, Morey should take a look at Jahlil Okafor. Acquiring a 21-year-old kid who has drawn multiple comparisons to Tim Duncan could be the best move of the season for Clutch City.
Next: Trade Deadline Moves in Store for Rockets?
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