Month: December 1969

Seltzer's Notebook | Okafor Closes Trip Strong

Seltzer's Notebook | Okafor Closes Trip Strong

Okafor Impresses Out West Before Jahlil Okafor even took the court Tuesday at Oracle Arena, Brett Brown was willing to put his stamp of approval on the 21-year old’s efforts out West, saying, “He’s been excellent on this road trip.” Then, Okafor proceeded to turn in another strong showing, going for 22 points against Golden State. The center had a particularly productive first half, posting seven points in the first quarter, before tacking on nine more in the second. His 16 points at intermission were second only to the 19 generated by Warriors’ shooting guard Klay Thompson. While he didn’t do as much scoring after the break, Okafor continued to have an impact as Tuesday’s tilt moved along. During a breakout third period that saw the Sixers’ lead balloon to 16 points, he delivered two key blocks and an assist that helped his squad string together 11 straight points, and seize control. “He’s amazing to me,” said Brett Brown, praising Okafor for staying focused on the tasks at hand this season, despite the uncertainty that, at times, has surrounded him. “He just knows that he’s got a bunch of people that care for him, he’s got good teammates, he’s got a coaching staff that really coaches him hard.” And Okafor has responded. He capped the Sixers’ four-game trek with back-to-back 20-point showings, a first for the big man in a year during which his playing time has, up until recently, fluctuated. With Joel Embiid sidelined for the rest of the season, and Nerlens Noel traded to Dallas three weeks ago, Okafor’s responsibilities have been on the rise. His output has increased accordingly. Since assuming full-time starting duties following the All-Star break, Okafor has averaged 15.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 53.0 percent from the field. Furthermore, his defensive rating during this stretch (107.5 opponent points allowed per 100 possessions) has been second-lowest on the Sixers’ roster. Another noteworthy development of late has been Okafor giving the Sixers dependable free-throw shooting from the five-spot, as Embiid did before him. In nine appearances on the heels of All-Star weekend, Okafor has converted 85.7 percent (30-35) of his attempts from the line. The final two outings of the Sixers’ road trip, he went a combined 13 for 15 at the stripe. “His heart and his head are in the right place,” Brown said. “He’s been empowered again, and he’s sort of more in the limelight.” As Okafor’s second campaign enters its home stretch, Brown remains appreciative of how the Duke product has handled himself. The head coach said Tuesday he now has a “whole other vision line of who [Okafor] is as a person.” “My respect for him grew to another layer, and I think this trip, we’re seeing somebody that’s playing, he’s a good teammate, he’s become, I think, more and more a leader.” Out on the other side of the country, Okafor certainly looked the part. Check back later for additional entries to today’s Notebook.
Seltzer's Notebook | Okafor Closes Trip Strong
Source: NBA