When Ben Simmons returns from injury, he will not need a big man clogging up the offense.
When last years number one draft pick, Ben Simmons eventually hits the court for the Philadelphia 76ers, once he has recovered from the surgery to the broken bone in his foot, he will need a little time. He will need time to see which players work best with his play. Jahlil Okafor will be the odd man out.
Simmons showed in college and them in summer league that he is a seriously talented basketball player. He will change the offensive structure in ways that only few people can or have. His play making is a lot like a LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo or eventually perhaps even close to a Magic Johnson.
His size, skill and speed allow for versatility on the court. The problem is that his size creates an even bigger logjam in the front court than is already there. There have been numerous discussion about which front court player should go. Should it be Nerlens Noel? Should it be Okafor?
Well, my money is on Okafor. There is no way that Philadelphia will trade away Joel Embiid, not after everything that they have gone through over the past two years with his foot injury to get him back on the court. There is also the other matter of his play. he has been incredible and will be a tremendous partner in crime for Simmons.
Noel is not the offensive powerhouse that Okafor was last season. Noel has yet to start his season due to a knee injury that required surgery. What he does add is defense at a level that no other starter can provide. Any short comings in the Simmons defensive game could be covered by Noel.
Okafor on the other hand is a poor defender. He does create his own offense but once the ball has gone into Okafor, it usually does not appear again until after he has shot the ball. Last year Okafor took just under 15 shots but only had one assist per game.
With Simmons and Embiid in the line up, there will be less need to create you own offense. It will actually work against the style of play that the 76ers will develop under Simmons, holding them back.
The other matter that appears to be an issue in Okafor’s game is the slump that he is in at the moment. It appears that due to Embiid being in the team, Okafor is not playing the way that he was. He is no longer the focal point and his game has suffered.
Okafor is averaging 10.7 points per game, that is almost seven per game less than last season.What is more telling is that Noel averaged 11.1 points per game last season as the second fiddle.
Why would you keep Okafor if his offensive output is similar or worse to Noel’s in the same role when Noel’s defensive is far superior.
For me it is clear cut, Okafor has to go. There are a number of teams out there who would get their right arm for him. Let the discussions begin.