There should be a Jahlil Okafor sighting at Barclays Center on Wednesday night, and not just of him sitting on the bench while the Nets play Minnesota.
Coach Kenny Atkinson said he expects to begin giving the 6-11 center some minutes after the Nets shut him down the last nine games to get him in better game shape and allow him to brush up on the team’s system.
“He’s been doing a phenomenal job getting ready physically with our assistant coaches, learning what we’re doing,” Atkinson said before Monday night’s 98-95 win over visiting Orlando. “So collectively we feel that he’s ready to get some minutes.”
It’s going to be a gradual increase, according to Atkinson. After acquiring him from Philadelphia on Dec. 7, the Nets used Okafor in only one game, and he had 10 points in 22 minutes in a loss at Toronto on Dec. 15. The 76ers had played the third-year pro in only two games before trading him.
Okafor doesn’t want the focus to be that he needed more conditioning. “It was more than just being fit enough,” he said. “I think it was just being in a new environment and learning the system . . . So I’m looking forward to playing on Wednesday.”
n Crabbe to keep swinging
Allen Crabbe had struggled with his shot in the previous three games. The shooting guard shot 1-for-6, 2-for-8 and 4-for-13 against New Orleans, Miami and Boston. From three-point range, he was a combined 4-for-21. Then on Monday night he went 3-for-8 overall but was 3-for-6 on threes on the way to 15 points against the Magic.
“It’s just like a hitter in baseball,” Atkinson said. “You have moments like this during the season. He’s going through a little bit of a shooting slump . . . I just think he’s a heck of a shooter . . . He’s got to keep shooting. It’ll come.”