Lakers Must Avoid the Temptation of Trading for Jahlil Okafor


According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Philadelphia 76ers could be moving on from Jahlil Okafor. Should the Lakers be interested?

In 2015, the Lakers were awarded the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, and many felt that there were only two players they could possibly pick.

Leading up to the big night, the two prospects that were atop nearly every draft board around the league were Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor.

Seeing as the Purple and Gold had the second pick, the job seemed simple enough: take whichever big man the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had the first pick, didn’t take.

Alas, the Lakers front office revealed that they had different plans entirely, drafting the flashy point guard from Ohio State University, D’Angelo Russell over Okafor. This move came as a surprise to many and there are still people to this day who believe the franchise should have taken the crafty big man out of Duke.

This feeling was reinforced throughout the 2015-16 season as Okafor thrived with the 76ers, averaging 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds as rookie, while Russell struggled to get established early on. But as the season progressed, Russell began to live up to his draft selection, with temperatures hitting freezing in his veins immediately after the All-Star break.

Averaging 53.8 percent from behind the arc through March, only trailing some guy named Stephen Curry who shoots the ball pretty well, Russell gave fans a glimpse of what they could expect to come to fruition sometime in his career.

Dropping a career-high 39 points on 14-of-21 shooting against the Brooklyn Nets, the now infamous “Ice In My Veins” game on March 1 signaled the start of Russell’s coming out party.

Needless to say, as of now, the Lakers seem content with who they took in hindsight, but there may be an opportunity for the Lakers’ front office to get both Okafor and Russell on the same team.

Coming off the news that the Philadelphia 76ers had signed Elton Brand, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, also revealed that the Sixers are also actively seeking suitors for Okafor and Nerlens Noel.

"The Sixers have had periodic trade talks this summer involving Noel and Okafor and plan eventually to move one of them, league sources said. Philadelphia doesn’t believe the two players’ talents are complementary"

Joel Embiid has yet to play a single NBA game, but he has the potential to be special. Noel on the other hand, has all the tools to be an elite paint protector in this league, but he obviously hasn’t shown enough to be pegged a star just yet.

If the 76ers are taking calls for Okafor, should the Lakers be on the phone?

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The Lakers are a franchise known for having dominant big men and Okafor could very well be the next in line, but they are better off letting some other team dump their assets for the young big man.

Yes, Okafor might be an offensive superstar in the league one day, but his defense leaves a ton to be desired. Just imagine a frontcourt of Julius Randle, who is undersized for his position and therefore a less than capable defender, and Okafor. The Lakers would be feasted upon in the paint worse than they have been the past couple of seasons, which is saying a lot.

While some diehard Okafor fans are quick to compare him to Tim Duncan or Hakeem Olajuwon, most people see a slightly more talented Al Jefferson.

That’s not necessarily a knock on Okafor, as Jefferson has been a reliable 20 and 10 guy throughout his career, but like Jefferson, Okafor might find his style of play a little outdated for the modern NBA.

If the Lakers were able to put a package together without including any of their young pieces for Okafor, maybe it wouldn’t be the worst move in Lakers history. That honor belongs to the Steve Nash trade, respectfully.

But it would be hard to justify a trade for Okafor that involved any of the Lakers young talent.

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The Lakers look like they’re finally on the right track after a few miserable seasons, and a trade like this could set them a few years back.