Okafor is younger and has more upside than Monroe. The Philadelphia 76ers know they have a rare talent in their hands and won’t trade him for cheap. To pull off a reasonable trade, the Celtics would need to part ways with either Avery Bradley or Jae Crowder. Both are steady contributors in Brad Stevens’ offense.
According to James Blaskiewicz of Hardwood Houdini, the Celtics should instead pursue Monroe. Unlike the 76ers with Okafor, the Milwaukee Bucks aren’t so keen on keeping their enigmatic center and his gargantuan contract.
Talent-wise, Monroe is not a huge drop-off from Okafor. He is a versatile scorer who does most of his damage in the low post. Okafor averaged more points per game last season than Monroe, but Moose tallied more rebounds and assists than the Duke standout.
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The one knock against Monroe is his lackluster defense. This would not be a huge issue for Stevens, as he was able to turn sweat-shooting big man Kelly Olynyk into a decent rim protector.
Now that teams are adopting the Golden State Warriors’ small-ball offense, having a pair of fluid low post scorers might offset the ballooning trend in the league. Horford and Monroe are highly-skilled big men who would have a clear advantage over smaller front court defenses.
Okafor has a higher ceiling than Monroe, but the Celtics are in a win-now mode. The 76ers rookie needs a few more seasons to max out on his talents. Even then, it is unclear if he eventually will develop into a perennial NBA All-star.
In the case of Monroe, Danny Ainge and company have a clear idea of what they are bargaining for. Monroe’s presence would transform the Celtics into legitimate Eastern Conference contender.
As for Okafor, Hashtag Basketball noted that his rookie season is comparable to that of Michael Beasley, Eddy Curry and DeMarcus Cousins. For the 76ers’ sake, here’s hoping Okafor would blossom into the latter rather than the two former.