Jahlil Okafor. (Photo: Getty Images)

Jahlil Okafor might have been freed from the Philadelphia 76ers' bench when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 7, but that didn't mean he was seeing any game action. 

 

After making his debut with the team a week later on Dec. 15, Okafor has been cheering from the sidelines as he's worked his way to get back into game shape while learning the Nets' playbook. 

 

It looks as though the Nets are ready to unleash the young center as he is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves (7:30 PM, YES Network). 

 

Despite being all but written off in Philadelphia after the 76ers stockpiled young talents like Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons, the No. 3 pick of the 2015 draft is still just 22 years old. 

 

It was an impressive deal pulled off by the Nets, who also acquired Nik Stauskas and a 2019 second-round pick in return for forward Trevor Booker. 

 

And it might only get better if Okafor can live up to the hype that surrounded him when he came out of Duke. 

Before Embiid returned to health in Philadelphia, Okafor was showing plenty of promise, including a rookie season in which he averaged 17.3 points and seven rebounds per game. In 106 games, he's averaging 14.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in just 26.2 minutes per game. 

His per 36-minute averages come out to look even better as he's put up 20.0 points and 8.1 rebounds in that metric. 

Should he show that he's in shape, has a grasp of Brooklyn's offense and can earn regular playing time, the Nets could be watching a future centerpiece of their frontcourt returning on Wednesday night.