It was another blowout and another DNP-CD for Jahlil Okafor. He’s now sat on the bench for seven straight games —three of them blowouts— since his 23-minute outing in Toronto on December 15. After the Pelicans’ blowout, Kenny Atkinson was asked if he was tempted to throw the big guy into a game. Nope. Not yet.
“We’re going to stick with his plan that is in place,” Atkinson said. “We’re not going to all of a sudden rush into something because of one bad loss. Patience with Jahlil. He’s working his tail off. It’s just going to take a little more time.”
But a few practices back, Atkinson gave the Post’s Fred Kerber a tip on how he expects to use Okafor and the fast improving Jarrett Allen ... together.
Kerber asked Atkinson if Okafor's presence would mean less time for Allen.
"No. (We could play) Jarrett and Okafor together. Put Okafor at the 5,” said Atkinson, noting that Allen has played some 4. “Jarrett has already guarded (Kristaps) Porzingis and then offensively, we’ll figure it out."
So they can be on a front line together? Kerber asked.
“Yes,” Atkinson replied
Kerber then asked Allen if he would be okay with a twin tower arrangement..
“I’m definitely comfortable,” he told Kerber. “The 4 and 5 here are interchangeable.”
The Nets are indeed pushing both players to become more flexible, more comfortable in the motion offense. Allen is becoming less afraid to take three-pointers, hitting 2-of-5 in December. And in practice and shootaround, Okafor is shooting a lot of three’s.
After one of the shots, you can hear assistant coach Bret Brielmaier tell Okafor “That was beautiful! That thing was a Picasso!”
Also, the Nets seem as much intrigued by Okafor’s face-up game as his post-up game.
Will it work? A couple of weeks ago, Brian Lewis did some research that would suggest it won’t be easy, noting what happened with Brett Brown tried pairing Okafor with another big in Philly.
It failed when Philadelphia tried it with Okafor. He and Joel Embiid were a horrid minus-21.5 in 80 minutes together last season. And in 696 minutes with Nerlens Noel during his rookie campaign, the pair were a minus-20. Those are daunting numbers.
There’s still no date for Okafor’s return. His need to be in game shape has gotten the headlines, but figuring out how to use the 22-year-old is likely just as big a deal for him and the Nets.