SI.com: Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor Goes 10th in 2015 NBA Re-Draft
As we hit the NBA all-star weekend, a look back at this year's draft and you can see that its one of the better drafts in recent memory.
Sure, Jahlil Okafor is emerging for the Philadelphia 76ers, but he's just one of the rookies this year who is impressing around the NBA.
Karl Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Myles Turner and Devin Booker have all had solid seasons thus far -but what if they draft was re-done? Where would Okafor end up? Who would the Sixers end up with?
Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp put together a re-draft, ranking Okafor as the 10th overall selection, landing with the Charlotte Hornets.
On the one hand, Okafor has been a disappointment in Philadelphia, even before you factor in his off-court issues. His defense is atrocious. He doesn't fit with Nerlens Noel. He needs time to work in the post, and that comes at the expense of the rest of the offense, both with ball movement and pace.
On the other hand, he's putting up 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block in 30 minutes per game for the Sixers. If Okafor has somehow turned into the cautionary tale of the 2015 draft, that's only an indication of just how great everyone else is. He's been in a horrible situation, without teammates who can get him the ball, in games that don't really matter. And he's still putting up numbers. Putting him on a playoff-caliber team in Charlotte—as the understudy to Al Jefferson, and next to a guy like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist—feels like a gamble worth taking.
Sharp listed Okafor in his re-draft behind top picks Karl Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, D’Angelo Russell, Myles Turner and Devin Booker. But also behind guys like Emmanuel Mudiay, Justise Winslow and Trey Lyles.
Okafor has been a tremendous offensive player, almost from opening night, shooting 49 percent through 23 games, averaging 17 points and 7.4 rebounds in 30 minutes per game. Where Okafor has struggled is on the defensive end and meshing with Sixers big man Nerlens Noel.
So who does the re-draft have the Sixers actually taken with the third pick in this fictional situation?
D'Angelo Russell, who went No. 2 overall in the real draft to the Los Angels Lakers, with Kristaps Porzingis moving into the No. 2 spot in this fictional draft.
Look, I'm still on Team D'Angelo. You're either with us or against us. For one thing, if he'd gone to Philadelphia, Sam Hinkie would probably still be in charge. They'd play small and fast around Nerlens Noel, the Sixers would be fun as hell, Russell would be playing 40 minutes per game, and he'd be having one of the better seasons of any rookie in the league.
He's struggled in L.A., but he's also got a much steeper learning curve than big men. Go back and watch James Harden or Steph Curry as rookies. This takes time. In addition to sharing a backcourt with Kobe and Jordan Clarkson, he's getting thrown to the wolves trying to guard a league that's full of dominant point guards in 2016. But every now and then he'll take your breath away with a pass, or hit a vicious step-back jumper, and you remember that one day he will one of those dominant guards. Please see the second half of that Lakers-Kings game for further evidence.
(Listen to Mike Sielski talk about Jahlil Okafor's first half of the season)