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Okafor Okay In Utah Summer League Game Two

On a back-to-back against a team filled with guards, Jahlil Okafor struggled to keep up, as one might expect, but still had a solid overall game in a Sixers victory.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers won in their second game of Utah Summer League action, defeating the Celtics 76-62. Jahlil Okafor finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, a more efficient outing than in game one. But in summer league, you tend to rely less on the statistical results and more on what you see. And Okafor looked a bit tired and weary, a step slower than yesterday, but with the same advanced skill level he always shows off.

First half:

Let's just pretend this didn't happen. If you were watching, you probably turned the game off. Marred by turnovers and missed shots, there was nothing redeemable to discuss.

Second half:

Where do we even begin? The Sixers didn't hit their first three of the game until Furkan Aldemir did the trick.

Okay let's try that again, that couldn't have been right. Furkan Aldemir, aka Mr. Rebound, who attempted and missed five three point field goals in 41 regular season NBA games, hit the first three of the game for the 76ers and provided much-needed scoring with 11 points in the second-half.

Wait, no that can't be right, one more time. Ahem... The Sixers dominated the second half behind the frontcourt tandem of Richaun Holmes and Furkan Aldemir, who combined for 24 points, 22 rebounds, and four three pointers, three of them from Aldemir.

None of that last paragraph made sense, which is the beauty of NBA Summer League, the NBA's random results generator. But it all happened, including Aldemir's three point barrage. The Furkan Turkan has worked on his three point stroke this summer, and it paid dividends tonight. That might be his only chance of seeing rotation minutes, and along with his guaranteed contract the only reasons for him to make the team. Holmes also had a solid outing. The second round pick showed off the skills of prototypical stretch forward from yesteryear, with shot-blocking and shooting.

This all surrounds Okafor, of course. With the shooting issues this summer league team has, even after the made shots, Okafor found it difficult to make room. But he still commanded double teams in the post and reacted well whenever that happened, and in the second half Aldemir and others helped make Boston's squad pay. He worked well offensively in the pick-and-roll, an area I feel he is underrated. He refuses to shoot outside a few feet, but when he gets involved below the free throw line he's automatic with his collection of layups, fakes, and bank shots.

Okafor predictably struggled on defense for much of the game. He's got some of the fundamentals down - unlike some fresh-faced NBA bigs, he at least knows where to be. But he's not in peak shape, doesn't move his feet well, and is playing on back-to-back days in high altitude after going months without an organized basketball game. It's not a great combination, but also not a huge warning sign. The Sixers didn't draft Jahlil for his defense, and when games count, he'll hopefully improve his conditioning even more.

He'll get a day off tomorrow with the rest of the Utah teams before playing against the best team in the tournament talent-wise, the hosting Utah Jazz, on Thursday.


Jahlil Okafor is officially a Sixer after signing his contract today. Welcome aboard! He's off to a pretty good start, and as seen below, he's definitely one of us.

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