no lies told... trying to blame a 21 yr old for all your problems , when your organization is bluntly trying to lose games, for all your probs is crazy How The Process failed Jahlil Okafor Things changed last season. After missing two years due to injury, Embiid finally took the court. Along with Okafor and Nerlens Noel, that gave the Sixers three centers who were recent lottery picks. When all three were active, there weren’t enough minutes to go around. But the trio was also frequently injured, giving coach Brett Brown little opportunity to see how they fit together. Okafor and Embiid played just 80 minutes as a tandem; the Sixers were outscored by 34 points during that time. Okafor’s playing time fluctuated and some nights he didn’t dress at all. His frustration reached a peak in January, when Brown called him into the coach’s office, took out a calendar, and informed Okafor that he would sit out the next four games. “That whole week I was just pissed off,” Okafor says. He returned to the lineup at Washington. Two minutes into the game, he caught the ball on the right wing against Wizards center Marcin Gortat. Okafor turned, backed into Gortat with a pair of hard dribbles, and then accelerated toward the middle of the lane. He scooped the ball into the hoop with his left hand, drew a foul and set a tone. For the rest of the game he attacked relentlessly, even staring down his own coaches after several baskets. Okafor finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. “It was just me being pissed, kind of saying to our organization that I think this is unfair,” Okafor says. “Just letting the basketball world know that I'm still the guy that everybody thought I was.” The Sixers hoped other teams would notice, because they realized they would have to trade one of their centers. In February, negotiations over an Okafor deal intensified to the point where the 76ers told him to stay home while the team traveled to Charlotte. But the deal fell apart and the next day Okafor boarded an American Airlines flight to rejoin the team in Boston. An uncomfortable situation grew worse. “It was awkward,” Okafor said. “I'm at home, watching my team play on TV, not a part of that team, but not a part of any other team. I was anxious. Eager to figure out where I was going to be. Kind of excited to have an opportunity to be with a new team and have a fresh start. Sad that I was leaving my teammates that I'd gotten really close with. And then I ended up playing the next night. I can't really put into words how difficult it was.” Now 20 pounds lighter and pain free, Okafor is noticeably quicker. And in Okafor’s mind, if his body wasn’t a finished product before this summer, neither was his game. “I would hear somebody else get criticized, like ‘oh, this person is not good at that, but oh, he's going into his second year,’” Okafor says. “But when it's me, it’s ‘well, he's not good at that, he'll never be good at it.’ I never got the ‘oh, he's going into his second year.’” Grizzlieswere 5.8 points per 100 possessions worse on defense when he was on the court. He merely went on to win the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2012-13. But Gasol’s anticipation and awareness are otherworldly. By contrast, Okafor has struggled to pick up on the nuances of positioning at both end of the court. Those who have watched him closely point out a host of subtle flaws. Instead of rolling hard to the basket when he sets a screen, he tends to float on the perimeter. He lets defenders push him off the block, instead of working to establish deep position. On defense, his lack of quickness is magnified by the fact that he hasn’t grasped spacing and positioning, a problem that also leaves him out of place to rebound effectively. Still, even the executive who trashed Okafor’s defense isn’t ready to give up on him: “I think he can get a lot better, but he has to know that he’s not good enough,” the exec says. “It’s going to take a total egoless approach.” That might not be possible in Philadelphia. Two years of criticism, of loss after loss, of fans turning against him, have taken their toll. If Embiid has come to represent the fruits of The Process — to the point where he has adopted that moniker as his own — Okafor has become a discarded byproduct overshadowed by his young teammates. “I definitely feel like I'm the scapegoat for a lot of The Process issues,” Okafor says. “Something I learned is that when you lose, people find a reason why you're losing and I think that's where the defense thing really blew up — ‘oh, he can't play defense, that's why they only won 10 games.’ But there were a lot of other reasons why we only won 10 games that season. “And then the second year rolls around. It's JoJo's first year playing NBA basketball, so he doesn't get the blame. And it's Dario's first year, so he doesn't get the blame. Nerlens just had surgery and Ben wasn't on the court either, so I felt like it was me again as the scapegoat.” Against that backdrop, he begins his third season in Philly. Pierce raves about Okafor’s attitude and professionalism; if he’s unhappy, he hasn’t shown it. But internally, frustration continues to mount. “I was kind of already thinking that I'm not really a part of this future,” he says of his teammates’ photos and tweets. “So it wasn't like 'oh my goodness, they left me out.’ I kind of left myself out.” So is it time to move on? Okafor pauses. He wants to make it clear that he respects the organization. That he loves his teammates. That he has no complaints about how he has been treated. But, he confesses, “Sometimes I do think it would be great to get a fresh start, be on a new team, new surroundings, new teammates. I think about that often and I think that's something that could benefit me.” He lingers in the fantasy, at the chance to find a way out of the darkness, a chance to feel home again.