The New Orleans Pelicans were left reeling following the season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins. In light of that injury, the Pelicans did something classy and savvy.
The New Orleans Pelicans are in the midst of a playoff race where their likelihood to make the playoffs remains strong. There are varying degrees of reasons that contribute to their current run of six straight wins. One key that seemed unlikely at the beginning was the 10-day contract of Emeka Okafor.
All around the NBA fans, writers, and those that make NBA Twitter what it is, have noticed that Emeka Okafor has returned to the NBA. They’re expressing shock, some younger NBA fans have no idea who Okafor is.
The former U-Conn standout last played in the league in 2013 on the Washington Wizards. The roster on that Wizards team featured a second year John Wall, rookie Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, and Shaun Livingston.
Okafor retired that year due to a neck injury. While Okafor was a solid player, he never got his chance to shine, he did pot decent numbers for the majority of his career. Still, he has given the Pelicans a new life amidst the darkness left in wake of the Cousins injury.
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Signing his first 10-day contract on February 3rd, Okafor provides quality minutes. His numbers are super sexy nor will they ever be. However, Okafor provides insurance for Anthony Davis that is much needed that this stage of the NBA season.
The Pelicans are also young, Okafor is a savvy veteran who can handle situations in the locker room and in-game pressure. Furthermore, this is a classy, yet risky move by the New Orleans Pelicans. There’s never a full guarantee on players making a comeback, Okafor is proving his case.
The beauty of Okafor’s game is his old-school take on playing in the paint. Today’s league is showing youngsters that centers can step out to the three and drain three’s. Okafor comes from the era where the big man stayed on the block. Okafor is averaging three points, six rebounds, and two blocks in 16 minutes of game time.
Keep in mind, the New Orleans Pelicans are undefeated since Emeka Okafor began starting. He’s no DeMarcus Cousins; however, he provides depth and veteran knowledge that the Pelicans need. It’s unclear if the Pelicans and Okafor will solidify any long-term plans. His contract is through the end of the season. The fact of the matter is Okafor is the NBA’s feel-good story.
The Pelicans still have tough games against San Antonio, Cleveland, Houston, Boston, and Golden State with a playoff berth on the line. Okafor will be instrumental in NOLA’s quest for the playoffs.