A 2015 third overall pick of the 76ers, Okafor's surprisingly nomadic NBA journey continued this offseason with the signing of a two-year deal with the Pistons after prior stops in Brooklyn and New Orleans. The big man is coming off two solid seasons with the Pelicans, and he managed to post a career-high 62.3 field-goal percentage during the 2019-20 campaign. Okafor complemented that figure with averages of 8.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists across 15.6 minutes, strong numbers relative to playing time. Okafor's 2020-21 outlook in the Motor City is interesting, as the young veteran will presumably slot in behind offseason acquisition Mason Plumlee and rookie 16th overall pick Isaiah Stewart on the depth chart to begin the campaign. However, Plumlee has never averaged more than 26.5 minutes per game at any point in his seven seasons, and that figure was accomplished back when the big man was 26 years old. Meanwhile, Stewart is only 19 and has a single season of college experience on his resume, so Okafor could be in for at least a slight boost in the amount of opportunity he saw with New Orleans over the last pair of campaigns, enough to make him an interesting late-round consideration in deeper formats.
Okafor appeared in a career-high 59 games in 2018-19 while accumulating averages of 8.2 points (58.6 FG%, 66.3 FT%), 4.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 blocks and 0.3 steals in 15.8 minutes. Based on those solid counting stats in limited playing time, it's not really surprising that in 24 starts Okafor offered 13.9 points (61.3 FG%, 64.4 FT%), 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 0.9 assists and 0.4 steals in 25.6 minutes per game. An improved diet and focus level helped him flourish in the aftermath of the Anthony Davis trade request, and Okafor took full advantage of his opportunities. Okafor figures to remain in a reserve role behind newcomer Derrick Favors and may have to fight off rookie Jaxson Hayes for the primary backup big man gig. It's also possible that the duo of rookie power forwards, Zion Williamson and Nicolo Melli, will steal some center minutes in small-ball lineups. As such, Okafor might have to scratch and claw just to match his stats from last season.
After what was a wasted season in 2017-18, Okafor signed a two-year deal with the Pelicans in hopes of reviving his young career. After being freed from Philadelphia, Okafor was barely able to get into the rotation during his time with the Nets, and while the Pelicans aren't exactly stacked up front, Okafor will still have plenty of work cut out for him if he's to see anything close to meaningful minutes. The former No. 3 overall pick has worked his way into notably better shape this offseason, but it remains to be seen whether that will translate to an overall game better suited to the modern NBA, particularly on the defensive end, where the bulk of his struggles have come.
The third overall pick in the 2015 draft has had a tumultuous two seasons in Philadelphia. As a rookie, he was the starting center right out of the gate, a job he held any time he was healthy. He was involved in multiple early-season, late-night, off-court incidents. On the court, however, he showed promise, leading the team in scoring with 17.5 points per game, while adding 7.0 rebounds in 30.0 minutes. His season ended after a meniscus tear in March, cutting off his rookie year after only 53 games, but there was guarded optimism about his future potential. He made it through his sophomore season without any off-court incidents, but his play, and his workload, took a significant step backwards. He averaged only 22.7 minutes and played in only 50 games, and most of his missed contests were due to further knee problems – though there were a few healthy scratches when he seemed on the brink of being traded. Both his per game totals and his per-36 minute stats got worse in almost every category, and he enters his third season as the likely third string center, behind Joel Embiid and 2015 second-round pick Richaun Holmes. Holmes ended 2016-17 as the 76ers starting center, after Embiid and Okafor had both been ruled out for the season. Holmes played well, showing more athleticism and versatility than Okafor. Okafor has not yet shown any ability to masquerade as a power forward, but even if he had, the 76ers don’t have extra power forward minutes available, as it is the natural position of recent lottery picks Ben Simmons and Dario Saric, as well as free agent signing Amir Johnson. The 76ers have invested heavily in Okafor, and they are likely to try to find opportunities that might re-energize his career, but based on the current state of affairs, he is unlikely to have much Fantasy value outside of deep leagues unless injuries open up the depth chart ahead of him.
Following a decorated freshman season at Duke, Okafor was drafted third overall by the Sixers and assumed starting center duties right away. While he flourished as the team’s top scoring threat in the frontcourt from the outset, off-court concerns dogged Okafor early in his rookie season. In just the first two months of the season, Okafor was involved in an altercation outside a nightclub, had a gun pulled on him in another altercation and was cited for driving 108 miles per hour. The collection of misdeeds resulted in the 76ers handing him a two-game suspension in early December, but Okafor seemed to respond well after that, both from a performance and maturity standpoint. He would go on to finish the campaign with averages of 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 30.0 minutes per game over 53 appearances before his season was cut short in March after he was diagnosed with a slight tear in his right meniscus. Okafor is healthy heading into his second season, but despite his impressive box-score contributions as a rookie, the jury remains out on his ability to be a difference maker on the defensive end. At 6-foot-11 and 275 pounds, Okafor is heftier than most centers, but lacks the athleticism to guard the perimeter or protect the rim. Moreover, he frequently didn’t mesh well with Nerlens Noel, a natural center who was often forced to play power forward due to Okafor’s inability to match up with stretch-four types. Things will get only more complicated for Sixers coach Brett Brown in 2016-17 when former No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid joins the rotation following a two-year absence due to foot injury, making it likely that the organization will eventually have to deal away either Okafor or Noel to clear up the logjam down low. For now, the presence of Noel and Embiid along with the addition of top overall pick Ben Simmons, who is projected to start at power forward, could mean a slightly decreased role for Okafor in Year 2, though he should remain the team’s best low-post scorer whenever he’s on the floor.
After a successful college campaign at Duke University culminated in an NCAA title, Okafor was selected third overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the 76ers, one year after they chose Joel Embiid at the same slot. During his lone collegiate season, the 19-year-old center averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.3 assists, and 0.8 steals in 30 minutes. Okafor completed 66 percent of his shots from the field and 51 percent of his free-throw attempts. Through a five-game stint at summer league, he averaged 16.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 31 minutes per game, marred by his 45-percent mark from the field and 41-percent accuracy at the free-throw line. Okafor enters the league as an accomplished post player, and his solid footwork, soft touch, and opportunity on a non-playoff roster make him the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. However, for all of his tantalizing box score stats, Okafor's struggles in summer league exposed a few fatal flaws, namely his lack of elite athleticism, below-the-rim presence, and inability to create necessary space against lengthy defenders. Coach Brett Brown requires peak physical condition from his players in order to run their up-tempo offense, and Okafor will have to match satisfy Brown's expectations if he's going to thrive in the league.