The comparisons to Tim Duncan have followed Jahlil Okafor since he became a brand name coming out of high school. It followed him, with help from David Robinson, through his year at Duke, as the one-and-done big man trawled NCAA accolades on his way to a national title.
Now on the Sixers, his game -- at least on the offensive end -- does resemble the sophistication and confidence that Duncan's exhibited when he entered the league almost a millenia ago.
Of course, the similarities end when you compare the franchise Duncan joined in 1997 to the Kickstarter project in Philadelphia at the moment and Okafor, nine games into his pro career, is still searching for his first win. All signs point to him waiting at least one more game before that happens.
The Sixers' 2015-16 season was not meant to have too many highs, but there was hope in seeing how the offensively-minded Okafor would fit alongside the versatile defender in Nerlens Noel. Noel has been sidelined for part of the early season, But came back in last night's loss to the Thunder. The former Wildcat is a disruptive player who can cause turnovers and step out and defend off switches if necessary. No player on the team has a positive net rating, but Noel's impact on how teams score is noticeable.
Also hurt are Tony Wroten and Kendall Marshall, two of their more talented guards. Isaiah Canaan, who began their year as their starting point guard, has taken on a role as a scorer off the bench. He's one of the Sixers' better options to stretch the Spurs' defense.
Jerami Grant had been getting the start in Noel's stead, and is among a list of players that you'll be excused for not knowing played on their team. Former King lottery pick Nik Stauskas, AKA Sauce Castillo, has been starting as of late alongside pass-first point guard T.J. McConnell. Brett Brown was hoping to have Robert Covington back, but it looks like his strained knee might keep him out tonight, as well.
As of Friday, the Sixers have a bottom-two offense and bottom-two defense and will struggle to score more points than opposing teams all season -- especially talented, experienced squads like San Antonio. If this game were in Philly and the Big Three were staying behind, there might be the potential signs of a trap game. But there's a day of rest in between this and their next game (and the one after), so it's possible everyone plays -- especially since the offense still has some kinks to work out. Still, one would hope that this game will be decided early and that we'll see a fair bit of Kyle Anderson and everyone's favorite gentle giant, Boban Marjanovic.
Matchup to watch: Jahlil Okafor, being given as many opportunities to face off against his role model, Tim Duncan -- and that's it. Avert your eyes from the rest of them, children. They may take on other forms!
|Spurs vs. 76ers|
|November 14, 2015|
|AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX|
|7:30 pm CST|
|Tony Parker||PG||T.J. McConnell|
|Danny Green||SG||Nik Stauskas|
|Kawhi Leonard||SF||Jakarr Sampson|
|LaMarcus Aldridge||PF||Jerami Grant|
|Tim Duncan||C||Jahlil Okafor|
The 76ers fans' perspective can be found at Liberty Ballers.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 23.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.