Big man Jahlil Okafor made his debut for the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 15. Since then, he hasn’t played as he was working to get himself up to speed — physically and playbook-wise — with his new teammates.
The Nets acquired Okafor (and guard Nik Stauskas) in a Dec. 7 trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, who drafted him No. 3 overall in the 2015 Draft but saw his role dwindle to nothing by the start of 2017-18. As the Nets ready for their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday (7:30 ET, NBA League Pass), coach Kenny Atkinson says Okafor seems ready to suit up again, writes Brian Davis of the New York Post:
“I expect to see him against Minnesota. I think I’ll start to get him some minutes,” Atkinson said Monday before the Nets beat the Magic 98-95 at Barclays Center. “He’s been doing a phenomenal job getting ready physically with our assistant coaches, learning what we’re doing. So collectively we feel that he’s ready to get some minutes.
“That’ll be a progression. We’ll build him up. We’ll evaluate where he is physically and game-wise. Like anybody, you’ve got to earn it with play.Let’s see him in small doses and hopefully build him up to bigger minutes.”
“It was more than just being fit enough. It was being in the environment, learning the system. I don’t want the message to just be me being fit enough,” Okafor said. “But [Atkinson] just told me a few hours ago, I was comfortable with the plays, with my teammates, the coaches. I’ve been working hard the last two weeks.
“But he just informed me like an hour ago, he texted me last night and said he wanted to talk to me [Monday]. And he delivered the message that he expecting to play me Wednesday against Minnesota. … I’m excited.”