NBA Draft: 76ers' Selection of Jahlil Okafor in 2015 Considered a Top Bust
Trusting the Philadelphia 76ers' process was hard, back in 2015. Although the team was looking forward to seeing the tall-man duo of Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid in action when they're both healthy, the Sixers decided to throw another big man into the mix with their 2015 NBA Draft first-round selection of Jahlil Okafor.
The center out of Duke was deserving of becoming a high-priority pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, landing in Philly with the 76ers didn't work out well for the former Blue Devil. The Sixers had eyes on point guard, D'Angelo Russell, that year, but the Los Angeles Lakers made him the second-overall pick.
At that point, former 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie wanted to go with a big man, and he had two logical options. The first was Dallas Mavericks' big man, Kristaps Porzingis. In hindsight, he probably would've been better for the 76ers, but Porzingis and his representatives did everything they could to scare the Sixers off.
Therefore, Hinkie chose Okafor. Despite the 76ers being the NBA's worst squad at the time, Okafor offered promise during his rookie season on the team as he averaged 17 points-per-game in 48 starts for Philly. Since that impressive rookie season, though, Okafor's time with the 76ers was quickly running short.
After multiple off-court incidents and falling out of favor with Sixers' head coach Brett Brown, Okafor's departure would soon become a top priority for the 76ers' front office in 2017. By December of 2017, the former Duke product was traded to Brooklyn.
Despite being a top-three pick, Okafor created little-to-no impact for the Sixers. And because of that, the 76ers' selection of Okafor five years later is considered one of the biggest NBA Draft busts since 2010, according to Bleacher Report.
"Had Jahlil Okafor been drafted with the third overall pick in 2005 instead of 2015, he wouldn't be on this list of busts. Instead, he stands out as the near-perfect example of the evolving NBA."
"Okafor came into the league from Duke as an elite, traditional center. He has great hands and a strong inside/around-the-basket game. While he's not quite a 7-footer, at worst, he should have had an Al Jefferson-like career. Instead, Okafor didn't last with the Philadelphia 76ers."
While it's a harsh assessment of Okafor's time with Philly, the above is true. The former Duke star simply wasn't versatile enough to hack it on the Sixers. Although he was drafted with the third pick a year after Joel Embiid was selected third overall, it's clear that Embiid's value ranked much higher than Okafor's early on despite Embiid's injury concerns.
Unlike many draft busts, Okafor is still in the league five years later. He might not have reached his projected potential from when he was coming out of college, but the 24-year-old big man is doing alright for himself in New Orleans.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_