Rookie Jahlil Okafor is done for the season and that might not be the worst thing for the struggling Sixers.
It would appear that Jahlil Okafor‘s rookie season is done.
The Sixers center has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will undergo arthroscopic surgery. It is expected to sideline him for six weeks, which means that unless Okafor is a fast healer, he will miss the rest of the 2015-16 season.
Okafor is averaging 17.5 points, 7 rebounds and 1.2 assists this season and is first in scoring among the Sixers and second only to Karl-Anthony Towns among rookies. He hasn’t played since February 28 due to soreness in his knee and also missed the entire preseason thanks to the same issue.
Sixers GM Sam Hinkie issues the following statement via Sixers.com:
“Jahlil recently started to experience discomfort in his right knee, which we immediately investigated. After a comprehensive series of tests and additional evaluation by our medical team, it was revealed that he has a small tear of the meniscus. Jahlil will undergo a minor arthroscopic procedure to address the injury. Timing and details of the procedure will be finalized in the coming days.
“Our medical team will continually monitor and evaluate Jahlil’s progress, and we anticipate he will resume full basketball activities in approximately six weeks.”
Now here’s the funny part: for the Sixers, being without Okafor for the rest of the year may be a blessing in disguise.
The Sixers have 18 games left this season and are sitting at a record of 9-56. They need one win over that span to not achieve the infamy of being the worst 76ers team in history, a record currently held by the 1972-73 squad.
If this season has taught us anything, it’s that center/forward Nerlens Noel and Okafor on the court at the same time just doesn’t work. The team plays much better when it’s one or the other and usually when Noel is on the floor the scoring might not be as high, but the team wins more. So the odds of getting at least one more win just increased for the Sixers with Okafor on the bench.
In addition, there is the ever-looming question of Joel Embiid.
Sometime this offseason, either Okafor, Noel or Embiid is going to have to be traded simply because the Sixers going forward with three centers just is not going to work. Think what you want, but it’s true. The 2016-17 season is a make or break year for this team where the tanking has to end and everyone, from the NBA to the fans, need to start seeing results.
If Embiid is healthy and can play half as well as everyone seems to think, that would mean Okafor is the odd man out. Noel has already proven he can play in head coach Brett Brown‘s system and what he may lack on offense he more than makes up for on defense. He now has 18 games to prove to Hinkie and Brown that he deserves to stay over Okafor.
If Noel can make a compelling case, it will make the decision to trade Okafor that much easier.
The Philadelphia 76ers are a better basketball team without Jahlil Okafor, plain and simple. Yes, he is very talented and will no doubt be an All-Star at some point in his career.
It just isn’t going to be with the Sixers.