Jahlil Okafor hasn’t played in four of the five games since being traded to Brooklyn, and the big fella says his lack of conditioning is due to the Philadelphia Sixers burying him on the bench for much of the season.
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) December 19, 2017
Okafor says the coaching and training staff in Philly basically abandoned him.
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson knows it’s going to take a while for the 22-year-old to get in game shape.
Per the NY Post:
“No, it’s to be expected. He just hasn’t played,” Atkinson said. “There’s just a difference between game conditioning — NBA conditioning — for [most people] he’s probably in better shape, but it’s a whole other level. It doesn’t surprise me at all. The fact that he’s a bigger guy, that’s part of it, too. It’s more difficult for them.
“We need to put him in a situation to succeed and a position to help us. I told him you’re not going to be alone. It’s not like we’re going to put you on some mountain and you’re going to be running. We’re going to do this together.”
He logged 22 ½ minutes Friday, and was visibly winded over the final six-plus minutes.
“You don’t really know where you stand. Playing against one of the best teams in the East was a good [test],” said Okafor, 22. “A lot of the guys are in midseason form, where I feel like I’m at the start of the season because I haven’t really played. … I have to catch up to a lot of guys.
“That’s why I’m happy I’m here with the actual NBA coaching staff that’s taking care of me every day. When I was in Philly I was figuring it out on my own. I had my own trainer [Rick Lewis] that I’ve been working with since eighth grade working me out. But it’s a different level when you’re actually working with an NBA staff.”