A HAPPIER JAHLIL
Since they entered the NBA, Winslow and Okafor’s careers have taken different paths, perhaps unexpected ones. Okafor was the star of that 2015 team, with Winslow and fellow freshman Tyus Jones also in starting roles, but not the focal point like Okafor.
Okafor was a top-3 pick, but things didn’t work out in Philadelphia. Injuries and a suspension after a fight with a fan outside a nightclub in Boston overshadowed his time in the City of Brotherly Love and he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in December2017.
Last August, Okafor signed as an unrestricted free agent with New Orleans but has appeared in only 11 games this season. Against the Heat, Okafor was done after his pregame warm-up, logging a DNP, while Winslow registered 23 minutes and 10 points in Miami’s 106101 victory.
“Yeah, he’s had his ups and downs, but he’s just happy that a team has embraced him and he has embraced them back,” Winslow said about his former running buddy after the victory. “Everything that we’ve talked about, he loves New Orleans, you know he’s a big guy and he likes to eat, and he talks about the food and how it taste good, and it’s tempting sometimes with his diet.”
Okafor has dropped nearly 20 pounds since entering the NBA. And even though he doesn’t play as much as Winslow, the Heat swingman said Okafor has a positive mindset that has rubbed off.
“He’s in a much tougher situation not playing consistent minutes and I might get down about shots or whatever, but I’m playing consistently,” Winslow said. “Just talking to him and him helping me put things in perspective has been helpful.”
The NBA careers of former Duke standouts, from left, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor have taken different paths.