By Barbara Harrison
The TMZ video of Sixer rookie center Jah Okafor’s Boston bash is a one-off:
The 6-11, 270-pound rookie from Duke is a well-behaved fellow who takes things in stride.
But maybe the Sixers need a graybeard or two on the roster to give all their kids some perspective.
The Sixers haven’t had a player older than 25 step on the court this season.
Luc Mbah a Moute, now with the Los Angeles Clippers, is the only player older than 27 to appear in at least 20 games the past two seasons.
Nearly three dozen NBA players have appeared in more career games than the combined total of the 12 players who have played for Philly this season.
Carl Landry is the team’s oldest player at 32 but he has yet to make his season debut, putting too much pressure on Brett Brown and his coaching staff to teach the kids what it takes to be professional.
The Sixers’ desire to lose big now to win big later is well known, but it shouldn’t just view veterans as salary-cap holds or a means to acquire more second-round picks.
The Minnesota Timberwolves finished with the league’s worst record last season but invested in expediting the development of No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins and fellow first-round pick Zach LaVine by bringing in aging vets Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller to help serve as examples on and off the court.
Some of Jahlil Okafor’s peers from the past draft have landed in situations with ready-made, veteran, all-star assistance. D’Angelo Russell is in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant. Kristaps Porzingis has Carmelo Anthony in New York. Okafor’s Duke former teammate, Justise Winslow, has Dwyane Wade in Miami. Okafor has Robert Covington, Isaiah Canaan and Kendall Marshall.
Earlier this week, Winslow was asked how Okafor was dealing with defeat and he replied, “It’s tough. Obviously, their organization is going through something different than us, but he’s a winner. I’m sure he’ll figure it out. He’ll find a way to stay positive. Obviously, it’s not the record he wants, but I’m sure in the coming years or this season, they’ll figure some things out and get going in a positive direction.”
Through his one notable misstep thus far, Okafor might inspire the necessary change in Philly. Having seasoned players around won’t prevent kids from making mistakes altogether, but the TMZ video should serve as a reminder that the long-term development of the 76ers might be enhanced if a chaperone or two were around to help the youngsters deal with getting their heads beat in.