The Brooklyn Nets Can See the Light at the End of the Tunnel
The Brooklyn Nets have been stuck in no mans' land for the past few years. Now, under new management, the team is finally heading in the right direction.
When the Brooklyn Nets acquired Jahlil Okafor, many viewed it as a rebirth for the former 3rd overall pick. Kenny Atkinson, the Nets coach, had already helped rebuild the careers of both D'Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, and DeMare Carroll. The expectation was Okafor could spend the remainder of the season in Brooklyn proving his worth. Fast forward to today and Okafor has racked up 5 consecutive DNP's and one DNP due to him not being with the team. The times Okafor has played, he becomes a blackhole for a team built for the modern NBA.
To simply put it, Okafor's game is not built for the modern NBA. Coming out of college, Jahlil was touted as an elite low post scorer with great size for his position. If he hadn't come along in 2015, there's zero doubt that I wouldn't be writing this article at all. Unfortunately the modern NBA relies heavily on pace and space, especially the type of scheme Kenny Atkinson runs in Brooklyn. The moment the trade was reported, I was skeptical on how well Okafor could fit.
The #FreeJah movement labeled the trade to Brooklyn as a success and many others labeled it one too. Jahlil Okafor was traded at a time the Nets needed a scoring punch and were open to taking on another reclamation project. Unfortunately Okafor has racked up 19 DNP's and when he's been on the floor, Okafor has looked like a defensive blackhole. The numbers tell an even uglier tale as Okafor is an abysmal -4.4 plus/minus per 100 possessions, -4 offensive plus/minus, and only 6.2 points per game. Okafor is also only able to squeeze out 13 minutes per game on a team that's rewarding hard work and potential. Despite Coach Atkinson continually saying he wants to bring Okafor up to speed slowly, it seems as if Okafor's time in Brooklyn is already numbered.
It's hard to say what's next for Jahlil. After this season he'll become an unrestricted free agent and hit a market that is not kind to centers, especially centers of his build. Brooklyn can offer a contract starting at $6.3 million, the value of Okafor's declined option. At $6.3 million on perhaps a 1 year with a team option contract seems like a decent “prove it” type contract. On the flip side, the Nets will be going into 2018-2019 with plenty of important cap space. Spending even a few million on Okafor could prove costly. No matter where Jahlil Okafor ends up, all he wants is to play and find a home.