The Washington Wizards suffered a huge loss last week when it was revealed that center Emeka Okafor was diagnosed with a herniated disc in his neck. Obviously, this is terrible news for a young team that was going to rely on the veteran for his presence on the court and in the locker room.
The good news is Okafor will not retire. Instead, he will do whatever it takes to make it back to the active roster this season in order to help the Wizards clinch a postseason berth.
“Emeka’s professionalism and dedication to taking care of his body are among the best I have ever seen during my time in this league as a player, coach and executive and I know that he will be diligent in his efforts to return to the court as soon as possible,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said, according to NBA.com. “Until then, his absence will create opportunities for other players to step up and provide the rebounding and defense that Emeka normally contributes.”
As of right now, the Wizards will rely on former first-round draft pick Kevin Seraphin to step up in Okafor’s absence. The third-year player averaged 9.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 21.8 minutes per game in 79 contests (eight starts) for Washington last season. Obviously, the team is hoping his numbers will improve dramatically when his playing time reaches new heights.
Washington should still be able to be competitive without Okafor, assuming certain players can step up. With that being said, it is certainly an unexpected hurdle the team will have to overcome in order to be one of the top eight seeds in the Eastern Conference.