NBA DAILY: Lou Williams Stepping Up For Injured Clippers
It’s unimaginable participant chosen as extremely in a draft and as not too long ago as he could possibly be thought of broken items by his drafting crew, however that’s what the Philadelphia 76ers considered Jahlil Okafor, and the Brooklyn Nets had been the beneficiaries.
Remarkably, behind the genius of basic supervisor Sean Marks, the Nets, with Okafor, all of a sudden have a roster with two younger constructing blocks in he and D’Angelo Russell. With Allen Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll, Marks has accomplished an unimaginable job of bettering the expertise base of the Nets regardless of having little property to supply by way of commerce worth.
Now, with Okafor in tow, the query everybody in Brooklyn desires to know the reply to is “When?”
After buying Okafor and taking pictures guard Nik Stauskas from the Sixers on December 7, neither of the 2 performed in any of the membership’s first three video games following the commerce.
The thought, mentioned head coach Kenny Atkinson, is to deliver each Okafor and Stauskas alongside slowly.
“I just think it’s going to take time,” Atkinson, in response to New York Newsday, mentioned Wednesday after apply.
“I can’t give you a timetable. I think we come to these decisions as a group. We’ll know when he’s ready and we’ll give you the word.”
Selected with the third total choose within the 2015 draft, Okafor averaged 17 factors and seven.5 rebounds per sport as a rookie. Since then, a mix of the rise of Joel Embiid, his lack of defensive presence and perceived incapacity to play in an NBA the place conventional back-to-basket facilities are thought of out of date dropped his inventory dramatically, to the purpose the place he performed a complete of 25 minutes this season for the Sixers.
Still, it hasn’t impacted the worth that Atkinson or Marks sees in him.
“I think he’s been very serious, very focused, and that’s a great start because that’s where it starts,” Atkinson mentioned on Wednesday.
“What’s your demeanor like? What’s your work? I’m looking to get to know him more.”
It’s not day by day coach will purchase a brand new participant who has affect potential and seat him on the bench, however that’s precisely what Atkinson has accomplished. What it means, although, might be extra vital.
When one considers what has transpired with the Nets since their transfer to Brooklyn, the franchise has been famend for making an attempt to take shortcuts to the highest. From Gerald Wallace to Joe Johnson to even Deron Williams, the strikes made by the franchise had been at all times designed with the considered tomorrow, not the pragmatic persistence and long-sighted view that, at the least thus far, Atkinson and Marks appear to have.
In most conditions, a franchise which is aware of that its first spherical choose goes elsewhere would really feel at the least some kind of stress to win as a lot as attainable within the quick time period, particularly after having the primary total choose within the prior 12 months’s draft snatched from their grasp. As a reminder, as part of the 2013 commerce that despatched Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, the Nets despatched the Celtics their first spherical picks within the 2014, 2016 and 2018 drafts, in addition to the correct to swap picks with them in 2017.
As destiny would have it, the Nets’ choose in 2017 ended up being first total, however, clearly, the Celtics exercised their proper to swap.
Since then, the Celtics dealt the Nets’ 2018 choose to the Cavaliers in change for Kyrie Irving, however to the entrance workplace’s credit score, the data of the sins of yesterday haven’t any affect on the brick-by-brick strategy that Marks has taken in making an attempt to rebuild the franchise.
Okafor, not like his prior life in Philadelphia, isn’t coming to Brooklyn with the stress of being any kind of franchise savior on his shoulders—he merely wants to slot in, on his personal time.
“They know my weaknesses and strengths and I’m working with them every day to get better,” Okafor mentioned on Wednesday.
“They already told me what they want me to work on and like I said, I’m all in.”
Obviously, Atkinson has a plan for Okafor, and with the Nets taking part in three video games in 4 nights, having one other huge physique to supply some minutes would do the crew wonders. But, for a change, there’s no haste in Brooklyn.
“Right now, I’m just getting used to the pace,” Okafor mentioned. “That’s the main thing. Especially with me really not having played at all this year,” he mentioned, alluding to the truth that, regardless of weighing in about 20 kilos lighter than he was final season, his lack of motion has trigger him to lose a little bit of his wind.
But whereas he could have misplaced his place within the rotation and his sport readiness, in Brooklyn, Okafor has discovered one thing way more helpful—a way of belonging.
“They’re just really invested in me and that just makes me feel wanted, it makes me feel a part of this team,” he mentioned.
With the ultimate debit of the ill-fated 2013 commerce being paid this coming summer time, the Nets will flip the web page on a brand new period that they hope Okafor and D’Angelo Russell—two gamers chosen one choose aside—might help to guide.
Behind the scenes, Marks will proceed to work diligently to amass undervalued items which may, for him, hopefully turn into part of a sum that’s larger than their particular person items.
But, in fact, like Okafor’s debut with Brooklyn, it’ll take a while.
That’s okay, although. Finally, at Barclays Center, for a change, there’s pragmatic persistence. For positive, this time, there’s merely no have to rush.