Welcome to a new section of Swarm & Sting where we see how our boys did last year and try to make a guesstimate on how they’ll do this year. We won’t include some of the departing members of last year’s team because why would we want to think how the Pacers will do?
So to start off let’s start off in style with our first sample of Emeka Okafor.
E mek had a relatively down year last year. Okafor had a career low in points per game (10.4), blocks (1.6), rebounds (9.1), free throw percentage (56.2%) and minutes per game (28:53).
Okafor’s expectation when traded to New Orleans was to offer a stable front-court player who could offer Chris Paul something in the way of an offensive weapon. Many cannot understand why Okafor had such a bad drop off in production but his career low in minutes should be indicative as to why his performance was down.
Hornet observer’s will point out that whenever the fourth quarter started you could be your bottom dollar the big Oak would not be in the on-court lineup. Many often wondered why this was the case, as Emeka posted his lowest Personal Fouls Per game of his career of 2.7, so clearly it wasn’t a foul issue.
To really understand why it was a down year, you have to look at the system in which he was placed in. Well, to be honest, there was no system. After the Hornets fired head coach Byron Scott, the Hornets creative gameplanning dropped off. That’s not to say Scott was an ingenious offensive mastermind, but he looked it once the organization installed Jeff Bower as head coach.
For some reason Bower never used Okafor in key situations. Sure his shooting range and offensive ability is questionable, but no more so than the next center. If Okafor stuck to what he knows best, that is rebounding, blocking shots, and working the pick and roll, his effectiveness will ultimately improve.
I look at one specific game in which Okafor was working to what he knows best, which was against the Memphis Grizzlies. On January 30th Okafor worked brilliantly with Darren Collison not only during the first three quarters but in the 4thand OT. Emek finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. He was working the pick and roll brilliantly with Darren, running the floor looking for easy baskets and grabbing offensive put-backs. This my friends is where Okafor works the best, off of other players.
For this upcoming season a healthy Paul means the world to Okafor. If Monty can trust Emeka to perform in the 4th and give him the right system to succeed then he might improve beyond sight. Yes his post up game is horrid but if he plays like he did against the Grizzlies night in and night out, expect to see career highs not career lows from the ole Oak tree this year.
- Points Per Game: 13.5
- Rebounds: 10.5
- Blocked Shots: 2.0
- Free Throw Percentage: 60 percent (that’s right)
- Minutes per game: 32