Jahlil Okafor has the chance to be the next great Nets big


Kenyon Martin. Keith Van Horn. Brook Lopez. All of these men have reached the pinnacle in the eyes of Brooklyn Nets fans. Is Jahlil Okafor next on that list?

The Brooklyn Nets traded for Jahlil Okafor this past Thursday, sending Trevor Booker to the Philadelphia in exchange. Okafor has a chance to prove that he belongs in the NBA’s upper echelon. But does a traditional post-playing center have a chance to succeed?

In an age where every player should be able to stretch the floor, Okafor is a remnant of the past. If this was the 90’s, his post play would dominate. He has great footwork, far advanced for his age. While he is not a great defender, he plays physical enough to bang down low with some of the biggest bodies in the league.

However, he still needs to be able to shoot the ball from a distance. In his first two seasons, nine percent of his attempted shots were from beyond 10 feet. The only reason this season was not factored in is the fact that he has only played in two contests. For comparison, Timofey Mozgov shoots a quarter of his shots from three-point range this season.

Look at Mozgov to be the example for Okafor. The former NBA champion was averse to shots from downtown before

encouraged him to shoot more. If Atkinson can do the same with Okafor, expect similar success.

At 6’11”, 260 lbs, Okafor has the physical assets to be a great post player. But that is about it. In his three years in the league, he has not proven much, other than that he has injury issues. In the past year, Okafor has felt soreness in his right knee five times, mostly in January and March. A big man with knee issues? It sounds a little too much like Greg Oden.

While injury issues and a lack of a shot are definitely concerning, it should not take away from the fact that he was considered a generational talent heading into the 2015 NBA Draft. He was a great facilitator at Duke and was a monster on offense.

Also, He was a force to be reckoned with on the offensive glass, grabbing 4.6 per 40 minutes, according to DraftExpress. And fans saw that in his rookie season. Okafor averaged 2.3 offensive rebounds per game in 2015. But last year, that number dipped to 1.6.

Next: Nets trade for a shooter in Stauskas

Okafor will need to prove that he can shoot and rebound as Brooklyn’s lead big man. Sure he has a ways to go on defense, but for now, he needs to prove that he can once again be an offensive beast.