Summer of 2018 is the summer of transformation for Jahlil Okafor.
At least that’s the plan.
In case you missed it, Okafor posted his body transformation on his Instagram page and there’s been numerous workout videos of him looking more agile and knocking down jumpers from the perimeter. Okafor went into depth about his offseason regimen and his plans for the upcoming season on C.J McCollum’s latest podcast.
Okafor spoke for the first time about his signing with the Pelicans. While he didn’t reveal too much, it was clear that he’s excited to play with Anthony Davis — Okafor’s role model — and be a part of a team that’s actively trying to win.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the New Orleans Pelicans organization, and I was actually — before I came out here to be at this D-Wade Invitational, I was in New Orleans this past week,” stated Okafor. “There were several guys there; AD was one of the guys there. You know, he’s a Chicago guy so he’s somebody that I’ve always been able to watch and monitor because when I was a freshman, he was the #1 high school player in the country as a senior. I was able to do the same thing. Then he went to Kentucky, won a national championship; then I went to Duke and copied him — did the same thing and won a national championship. He’s always been like a mark for me to look at. He’s not too much older than me, but a role model in the sense of just the success he’s had and he’s always done everything the right way. So, I’m excited to be able to team up with him and be with him on a day-to-day basis.”
Jahlil mentioned that he also met with the Pelicans coaching staff while in New Orleans, and then proceeded to delve into the fact that he knows he needs to improve upon his deficiencies — rebounding and defense.
“The knock on me has always been my defense and my rebounding,” said Okafor. “I let the coaches know that I’m aware of that, and obviously they’re aware of that. They know that I’m 150% bought in to doing whatever it takes to win. I think I’ve taken the necessary steps this summer just to become a better defender, a better rebounder — just because I’m moving better and I’m doing all of the right stuff. I’m really excited about it.”
Okafor went on to add that New Orleans is a fresh start for him: a new team, new city, and a new conference.
“With the Pelicans in particular, I’m going to a team with aspirations of winning a championship, and that the whole organization and atmosphere is all about winning. That’s not something I’ve been accustomed to since I’ve been in the NBA; it’s sort of been the opposite.”
This is a telling quote that rings really true. Okafor has never been around a winning environment, starting with the Process Sixers teams and then his brief stint with the Brooklyn Nets last year. The Pelicans will offer Okafor his first opportunity to be around a team that is coming off a solid playoff showing and still hold plenty of postseason expectations.
Okafor touches on a number of topics throughout the podcast, including the mechanics of his changed jump-shot, his improved diet but it no longer is Vegan, and comparisons for Duke’s Zion Williamson and R.J Barrett. Overall, Jahlil comes off as a player that is working hard on his flaws and hopes to find his niche in the league.
The New Orleans Pelicans may be that team to revive this fallen star’s career.