Sixers Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor
The Philadelphia 76ers will do something that certainly bears watching. The Sixers will be putting Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on the floor together. Embiid, a 7-foot, 275-pounder, and Okafor, a 6-foot-11, 265-pounder, will be the Sixers new version of the twin towers.
Of course, the fans would have seen these two players operate inside on Wednesday night, but unfortunately the Sixers game with the Sacramento Kings at the Wells Fargo Center was postponed due to an issue with the surface on the court. Embiid and Okafor should be able to get on the court Friday night when the Sixers host the Orlando Magic.
Sixers head coach Brett Brown is excited about playing them together. Brown isn’t sure how well they will be able to play together at the same time.
“I look forward to playing them together,” Brown said. “It’s up in the air as to what it’s going to look like. In defense of them and fairness to them because of so many situations, it’s not like we’ve had an abundance of time to practice together.
“It’s hard to find practice time as it is. And so, in their defense it’s going to take a little bit of time to find some type of rhythm, but we’re ready for it. We’re ready to play them together. We want to judge it on defense and how we’re getting up and down the floor and matchups.”
Embiid just had his minutes increased from 24 to 28. That should help Brown. Okafor isn’t under any minutes restriction. Embiid is averaging 18.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game. Okafor averages 10.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks a game.
If you look at the history of playing two big men together, there has been a lot of success. In fact, the Sixers were very successful during the early ’80s playing the late Darryl Dawkins and Caldwell Jones, both of whom were 6-foot-11, together. Dawkins and Jones were a good combination. Dawkins was a very talented player. He could shoot from the perimeter. He was a powerful player around the basket. Jones was an average offensive player. He did have a nice mid-range shot and a jump hook. However, he was a great defender and a solid rebounder.
Dawkins and Jones played together a lot during the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons. Both players were very productive. Dawkins averaged 14.0 points and 7.2 rebounds a game in ’80-81 and tallied 11.0 points and 4.9 rebounds a game in ‘81-82. The ’81-82 season Dawkins was injured for a good part of the season.
Jones averaged 7.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks a game in ’80-81 and was solid in ’81-82 with a 7.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game.
The Sixers had two of its best teams during those seasons. In 1980-81, they had a 62-20 record losing to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals in seven games.
In 1981-82, the Sixers were 58-24 and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. Of course, Dawkins and Jones had some great players around them like Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones. Nevertheless, head coach Billy Cunningham made it work. The only thing the Sixers didn’t do is win an NBA title.
Dawkins usually played away from the basket. He had good range on his jump shot. This allowed Jones to come across the lane to use his talents close to the basket.
Brown may not have a lot of practice time with Embiid and Okafor playing together. He’s going to be feeling his way with these players.
This could be a great move playing both of them together. They may not get to the conference or NBA finals right now, but this could bring something different to the table, which could force their opponents to match up with them.