Jahlil Okafor Appreciates Nets' Investment in Him
Jahlil Okafor is on board with Brooklyn's plan to ease him in
BROOKLYN – Jahlil Okafor understands the importance of timing.
It's been a year since he's had consistent playing time, but appreciates the patient approach the Nets staff is taking towards getting him acclimated with the team. The former No. 3 pick of the 2015 NBA Draft explained that it’s on him to show that he’s ready to contribute.
“Just preparing as hard as I can, working as hard as I can, so I know when my time comes, I’ve prepared in every way,” Okafor explained on Wednesday after practice. “It’s kind of a mental thing, you feel good about yourself. You feel good about the work you put in. Hopefully, that translates to the floor.”
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson insists he’s working hard to integrate both Okafor and his fellow arrival Nik Stauskas into the team. Still, he remains noncommittal on when Brooklyn fans should expect to see the former Sixers on the court.
“I just think it’s going to take time,” Atkinson said. “I can’t give you a timetable.”
There’s been plenty of debate of how Okafor, a traditional low post center, will fit into Atkinson’s high-paced style of play. Yet, both men are excited to make tweaks to their style to make it work.
“They know my weaknesses and strengths and I’m working with them every day to get better,” Okafor said. “They already told me what they want me to work on and like I said, I’m all in.”
He added, “[I’m] just getting used to the pace. That’s the main thing. Especially with me really not having played at all this year.”
Atkinson revealed he wants to incorporate more low post plays to take advantage of the former Duke star’s natural scoring ability there and showcase his passing savvy as well. However, it is very likely that the coach will want Okafor to expand his range. Atkinson has praised the 21-year-old’s receptiveness so far in practice.
“I like being around him, that’s important,” Atkinson said. “I like that he’s polite, I like that he’s courteous, he’s got a nice demeanor; I like that he’s very business-like. Young guys can be a little loose. I think he’s very serious, very focused, so that’s great.”
For Okafor, the feeling is mutual.
“I feel like I got drafted all over again,” he said. “They’re really invested in me. That just makes me feel wanted, it makes me feel a part of this team.”