Ahead of the 2021-22 season, Peachtree Hoops is previewing each potential member of the Atlanta Hawks’ roster. Today, we look at Jahlil Okafor, a recently signed backup center who may or may not make the team out of camp.
In the most recent move by Atlanta Hawks, they signed Jahlil Okafor to a non-guaranteed contract.
The No. 3 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft played in 27 games last season with the Detroit Pistons and averaged 5.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Okafor was set to be the backup center for the Pistons, but the emergence of Isaiah Stewart and a knee injury he suffered in January kept him out of action for 31 games. When he returned, he took over the backup center duties and averaged 6.3 points and 2.6 rebounds.
On Sept. 4, Okafor was traded along with Sekou Doumbouya to the Brooklyn Nets for DeAndre Jordan. Okafor was later waived by the Nets, making him a free agent.
Before signing with the Pistons, Okafor had stints with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans for the past three seasons, but was never able to find his footing, as his playstyle didn't fit with many teams.
With the Hawks trying to complete their training camp roster, adding a young center like Okafor could end up being a low-risk, high-reward move for the team. Onyeka Okongwu’s injury helps this signing make more sense as well, as it deepens the depth at the center position.
As the league continues to evolve and the traditional center drifts away, players like Okafor are hard to come around. The Hawks offense doesn't compliment him as much, especially since they love spreading the floor with perimeter shooters. Like Clint Capela, if he can run the floor, rebound, and catch lobs, his chances of making the team could increase.
Okafor will most likely be competing with Timothé Luwawu-Cabarot, who the Hawks just recently signed as well, for the final roster spot. The Hawks already have a good amount of wing players on the team, but the demand of defensive wings is a priority in the league nowadays.
If Okafor does make the team, he’ll be the third center behind Clint Capela and Gorgui Dieng on the roster until Okongwu returns. He’ll most likely serve as the emergency center and see time on the floor if games are already decided.
We’ll see how things go for him during training camp.