The Brooklyn Nets did a great job this off season accumulating young talent in ways that seemed impossible. With little to no draft picks, many people in the league saw this franchise in a stage of doom, but general manager Sean Marks found a way to make this team respectable while they develop their young core.
As if Marks couldn’t do any more, the general manager made a huge move this week by acquiring Jahlil Okafor, the former young big man of the Philadelphia 76ers who famously failed to accumulate much playing time the past two years.
Okafor is a very talented player who averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds a game as a rookie for the 76ers, but his inability to defend in a team oriented defense forced him to the bench the past two years. The talent is there for Okafor to be a quality player, but he needed to find the right situation to succeed, and that place is in Brooklyn.
The Nets aren’t in a win now mode for the foreseeable future, but what they are doing right now is trying to develop their young players to form a core full of quality NBA players. Paired with D’Angelo Russell, Okafor and the Nets have a chance to build something special here in Brooklyn.
Okafor’s ability to score inside is exactly what the Nets have been looking for. They have the perimeter talent to score with the best of them, but finding a force inside is the thing that will help them pull off even more “shocking” wins this year. Kenny Atkinson is known for being a great developmental coach, so it makes even more sense for the Nets to take a chance on the young big man.
Brooklyn only had to give up Trevor Booker to get this deal done, and while Booker was a quality player for them, he really wasn’t going to speed up this dramatic rebuild. No one is saying that Okafor is going to fix the Nets, but he does have a chance to solidify himself as a starter for this team for a long time.
The Nets still have a long way to go before they start competing for deep playoff runs, but for now they should be focussed on gaining as many young prospects as possible, and leaving it up to their great coaching staff to turn them into dominant NBA players. It won’t be easy, but trading for Okafor is one more step towards the Nets turning this thing around.