The expectations in Philly are laughable at best, and the joke on social media Thursday night during the NBA draft was, “What is Philly going to do with all these centers?”
Los Angeles drafted D’Angelo Russell ahead of Jahlil Okafor, who for for the better part of the 2014-15 college basketball season was expected to be the No. 1 pick.
Okafor tried his best poker face after finding out he was going to the Sixers but no doubt he had thought for sometime he would be in Los Angeles and be “the guy”. Now he’s the guy in Philly.
Here’s Okafor’s response to not going No. 1 or No. 2:
“I can’t be disappointed,” said Okafor.
“I’m in the NBA living my dream. I’ve been getting a lot of criticism. People in my circle, we’re just going to take it with a grain of salt. It’s easy to shoot at somebody when they’re at the top of the hill. I’ve been pretty much at the top all throughout high school, all throughout college, so I’m expecting it.”
His response on what the Sixers will do with so many big men:
“I don’t know, it’s not my job to figure out. I’ll just go there and work as hard as I can.”
Meanwhile D’Angelo Russell was all smiles.
“Man, it’s a blessing to be here,” said Russell.
“God is good. I can’t really put a nail on how I’m feeling right now. I feel like busting out like a baby in tears. I feel like being tough, being strong. I don’t really know how to put a nail on it, but definitely surprised to be here right now. Just a few months ago I was graduating high school, so to go through a year of college and then be in this position is a blessing, man.”
And now for the first time in his NBA career Kobe Bryant, can take the time to challenge and mentor a young player the way he was meant to. Bryant understands that this is his last season and but this Lakers team is not Championship caliber. He can take the time to mentor Russell the way he has never had the time or opportunity to do so for any other young player. Frankly the Lakers have not had a talented young player like Russell in Bryant’s tenure.
Russell will be the guy in Los Angeles and is considered a great passer. Kobe loves it when you pass. Okafor will be the guy in Philly but he doesn’t have a lot of help.