A HAP­PIER JAHLIL

The Herald-Sun (Sunday) - - Sports -

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.”

CHUCK LIDDY News & Ob­server staff file photo

The NBA ca­reers of for­mer Duke stand­outs, from left, Jus­tise Winslow, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor have taken dif­fer­ent paths.

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