I was out at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this year and I heard about the questions the Eagles were asking the players. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your game? How do you think you can improve as a player?
They were trying to find out which players were open to getting better and the ones who thought they had already arrived. Players who think they can get better are open to being coached. They work out harder because they think good practice habits will help them improve. The Sixers Jahlil Okafor has this type of attitude.
The intelligence and humility of Okafor excites me about his future and the future of the Sixers. He had an outstanding coach at Duke in Mike Krzyzewski and knows a good coach can help him become a better player. The young man knows he must get better in order to accomplish his goals and he’s looking for ways to improve.
Chip Kelly talks to his players about having that type of growth mindset. In fact, Kelly has his players reading books about having an attitude which believes and emphasizes you can get better each and every day. In a way, I see the Sixers emulating Kelly with the type of players they’re trying to draft and the sports science program that the Eagles utilize.
The Sixers just hired Todd Wright the former University of Texas strength and conditioning coordinator. The Sixers former strength and conditioning coach Jesse Wright has been promoted to a “newly created performance science position”.
Okafor’s attitude is much like that of Eagles players like Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor will insure that he will improve from practice to practice and from year to year. He would fit in the Chip Kelly culture.
A young talented player has to battle his pride because on one hand, he will have friends and fans telling him, he’s the greatest and that there’s nobody better. His coaches will be talking about ways he can improve and take his game to another level. The key is who he listens to and believes.
“I really want to get adjusted to the NBA game,” Okafor told Philly.com following one of the Summer League games. “Get used to playing with a different shot clock. Get a feel for my teammates. Get a feel for the coaches and what they want from me while I’m a part of the team. Getting comfortable — that’s my main objective.”
“I loved his communication defensively,” said Billy Lange the Sixers Summer League. “I could hear it in front of our bench. He’s just getting more and more comfortable with NBA concepts on both ends. I thought that he played well. He didn’t force anything.”