You can’t go a day in the local and national media landscape without seeing or hearing about Sixers center Jahlil Okafor’s possible involvement in a trade in the weeks leading up to the NBA draft. With rumors of LSU forward Ben Simmons potentially joining the Sixers’ already crowded frontcourt situation, it makes sense for the Sixers to sell the Duke product at his highest value in order to address other areas of the roster.
Okafor — who averaged 17.5 points, 7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game — is one of the more promising offensive big men in the league today, but questions remain about his defense and fit on the Sixers roster moving forward.
Here are three potential landing spots for Okafor with the draft now just three weeks away:
Okafor to the Lakers for D’Angelo Russell
It’s well known that the Sixers need a point guard who can also score and shoot. On draft night last year, Russell was viewed as the consensus pick for the Sixers at No. 3, before the Lakers swept him up right before them at No. 2. Turmoil continues to surround Russell over a leaked video of teammate Nick Young admitting to cheating on his fiancee Iggy Azalea in March, and now could be a time for the Sixers to make a swap for the guard they once coveted.
Russell averaged 13.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals last season for the Lakers. Okafor would be a welcomed addition to a thin front court situation in L.A.
Okafor to the Celtics for pick No. 3
The Boston Celtics are a guard heavy team, featuring Isaiah Thomas (22.2 PPG), Avery Bradley (15.2 PPG), Evan Turner (10.5 PPG) and Marcus Smart (9.1 PPG). What they’re missing is a strong offensive piece in the frontcourt. Centers Jared Sullinger (10.3 PPG) and Kelly Olynyk (10.0 PPG) are both solid pieces, but don't have the rising star quality that Okafor possesses.
At pick No. 3, options are slim in terms of front court help for the Celtics. They might be willing to ship their pick to the Sixers for Okafor. The Sixers would have their pick at guards like Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray and Buddy Hield, while the Celtics would have a centerpiece to their already talented backcourt.
Okafor to the Suns for pick No. 4 or Eric Bledsoe
The Suns are looking for a short rebuild, after a dreadful 2015-16 campaign. Guards Eric Bledsoe (20.4 points), Brandon Knight (19.6 points) and Devin Booker (13.8) make up a solid backcourt for the young team, but size is currently a very real issue for the team.
An aging Tyson Chandler, 33, and underperforming Alex Len (9.0 PPG), take up nearly all of the frontcourt minutes in Phoenix and they’re in desperate need of an upgrade. The Sixers could look to move Okafor for pick No. 4, where they’ll have their pick of the top guards in the draft, or they could try to make a push for Bledsoe instead.
Bledsoe has proved to be a special talent when healthy. A torn meniscus last season limited him to just 41 games, where he averaged 20.4 points, 4 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2 steals per game. New general Bryan Colangelo has stated his desire to trade for a proven star, Bledsoe might just be the star he’s looking for.