Former 76ers No. 3 pick Jahlil Okafor opens up about Colangelo scandal, bid to return to NBA

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The evolution of the game away from bigs who feasted in the paint towards small ball taking off at almost exactly the moment former Philadelphia 76ers No. 3 pick Jahlil Okafor came into the league did the Duke alumnus no favors.

But it probably did not help Okafor’s career that his team’s general manager at the time, Bryan Colangelo, found himself embroiled in scandal once it was revealed that Colangelo had been using a secret Twitter account to attack him, fellow Sixers big man Joel Embiid, and the prior Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie, either. After the fallout of the scandal created an untenable situation, the 76ers dealt him to the Brooklyn Nets.

While it might not have seemed like it at the time, it helped set in motion the path that would ultimately see Okafor’s opportunities diminish as the league’s style of play underwent a tectonic shift.

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Now playing in the NBA’s G League for the Mexico City Capitanes as he tries to leverage a move back to bigger lineups for another shot at playing in the league Philly drafted him into, Sixers Wire caught up with Okafor to talk about his tenure with the team, and why he picked the Capitanes.

“The one obvious goal is to make it back to the NBA,” explained Okafor. “But while I’m here, I’m trying to get better each and every day.”

 

The uptick in double-big lineups on teams like the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Cleveland Cavaliers has caught the attention of the Chicago native, who hopes it translates into more interest in bringing in more bigs to a league that has been mainlining small ball for a half-decade.

“It’s definitely good to see,’ he explained. “The last four or five years, there’s been a lot of small ball, and that hurt me in a way, so that’s exciting to see. I hope it does help me out and get me back (to the league).”

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As for that experience with Colangelo slandering his reputation and that of his teammates and former GM, Okafor admitted it was a toxic situation, but hasn’t carried it like a burden since.

“It wasn’t the ideal situation for myself having a general manager who had a fake Twitter that was dissing his own players; it definitely wasn’t an ideal situation. But all I can say is I’m still here, I’m still standing, and I still have an opportunity to continue to play the game I love.”

And though Okafor is still fighting to get back into the NBA via the Capitanes, he is closer to the league in so doing than Colangelo, who is currently consulting for the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) after exiting the NBA in the wake of his Twitter kerfuffle.

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Both the NBL and G League have become viable routes for players looking to get into the NBA as rising prospects, but the latter has been much more commonly used for veterans looking to get back into the league after finding themselves on the outside looking in.

Whether Colangelo can leverage his own situation remains unclear — as does if he even would want to. Okafor on the other hand perhaps has the wind at his back in terms of trends in styles of play go in the NBA.

And at just 26 years old, we may well yet see him back in the league Philadelphia brought him into all those years ago.

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Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire

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