New Detroit Pistons center Jahlil Okafor once got pulled over going 108 mph

The Detroit Pistons agreed to terms with backup center Jahlil Okafor on Friday during the first day of the NBA’s free-agent negotiating period.

Free agents can’t officially sign with teams until noon Sunday.

It’s a two-year deal, ESPN reports.

In five NBA seasons across three teams, Okafor holds career averages of 11 points and five rebounds, one assist and 0.9 blocks in 20.4 minutes per game over 220 games (114 starts). He shoots 53.8% from the field.

Here are three things to know about Okafor:

LIVE UPDATES: NBA free agency and trade rumor mill

SLAM: That time new Pistons center Mason Plumlee stuffed LeBron James

NCAA champion

Okafor signed with Duke out of Chicago’s Whitney Young Magnet High School as the No. 1 overall player in the country in 2014, according to 247Sports.

And he lived up to the hype in college.

Okafor was a star on Duke’s 2015 NCAA championship team, averaging 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game to earn national freshman of the year honors.

He entered the draft after his freshman season and was the No. 3 overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Life comes at you … fast

Okafor struggled to adjust to the spotlight of NBA life as a rookie.

In October 2015, he was involved in an argument outside of a Philadelphia nightclub that led to a gun being pulled and police being called, according to ESPN.

That same month, he was caught driving 108 mph over the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia (the speed limit reportedly was only 45). And then in November 2015, he was caught in two fights outside a Boston nightclub, according to videos obtained by TMZ Sports.

In May, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told a Philadelphia radio station that Okafor has matured after his rough start and explained his early struggles this way:

“Jahlil is a youngster that had to go (to the NBA), because of the economics,” he said. “He was going to be a top-three pick. … Jahlil’s maturity … This doesn’t mean he’s immature. He needed to be part of a village longer. … It’s on Jahlil. He didn’t have that. He made mistakes that he would never make. That happens all the time. I see it all the time, not just athletes but kids on campus. They have freedom. It’s their first time away from home. In his case, you’ve get money.

Story continues

“In the NBA, one of the main things you fight is loneliness. … You don’t have that family structure. You’re playing with guys they have families. They go to work. They’re good guys, but it’s not there. He needed that. When he didn’t have it, he made mistakes he’s responsible for. No one else is responsible for that.”

Declining numbers

Okafor hasn’t lived up to the hype as a No. 3 overall pick, especially after his rookie season of 2015-16, when he averaged 17.5 points per game on a 10-win Sixers team and was named to the All-Rookie first team.

Since then, his points-per-game average has dipped from 11.8 in 2016-17 to 8.1 last season with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Overall, his game has been phased out in the NBA, where the league has moved away from traditional post-up centers who also aren’t adept passers or defenders.

Okafor, 6-feet-10 and 270 pounds, has slimmed down in recent years in an effort to stay on the court defensively. And though he doesn’t often create offense for others, making him a liability in today’s NBA, he’s still a force when the ball is in his hands.

Chris Thomas is the sports editor at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @bychristhomas.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: New Detroit Pistons center Jahlil Okafor once got caught going 108 mph


You might like

About the Author: NBA NEWS SITE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *