It may be time for more Jahlil Okafor, according to Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.
“I expect to see him against Minnesota (on Wednesday). I think I’ll start to get him some minutes,” Atkinson told reporters. “He’s been doing a phenomenal job getting ready physically with our assistant coaches, learning what we’re doing. So collectively, we feel that he’s ready to get some minutes.
“That’ll be a progression. We’ll build him up. We’ll evaluate where he is physically and game-wise. Like anybody, you’ve got to earn it with play.Let’s see him in small doses and hopefully build him up to bigger minutes.”
Okafor is 6-foot-11 and was obtained in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 7. He played just 25 minutes for the Sixers this season, and has appeared in just one game with the Nets — logging 22 minutes in a loss to the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 15.
The former No. 3 overall draft pick has fallen from grace quickly, looking a bit out of shape in his lone Nets outing. But he said he is excited about the new opportunity.
“It was more than just being fit enough. It was being in the environment, learning the system,” Okafor told reporters. “I don’t want the message to just be me being fit enoug. But [Atkinson] just told me a few hours ago, I was comfortable with the plays, with my teammates, the coaches. I’ve been working hard the last two weeks.
“But he just informed me like an hour ago, he texted me last night and said he wanted to talk to me [Monday]. And he delivered the message that he expecting to play me Wednesday against Minnesota. … I’m excited.”