NEW YORK — There’s going to be a lot of familiar faces at the Barclays Center.
Wednesday will be a double reunion for the Sixers when they face two former teammates, Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas, for the first time as members of the Nets.
The Sixers traded the duo and a future second-round pick to Brooklyn on Dec. 7 in exchange for Trevor Booker.
“Just to see them on another bench and subbing in against us, it’s going to be really weird,” T.J. McConnell said. “I’m especially close with Nik and Jahlil so playing against two really good friends, it’s going to be different.”
Both Okafor and Stauskas played over two seasons in Philadelphia. The Sixers drafted Okafor with the third pick in 2015. That summer they acquired Stauskas, the 2014 eighth overall pick, from the Kings.
Neither clicked within the Sixers' system, though. Throughout his time on the team, Okafor found himself in a logjam at the center position and battling injuries. He got healthy this summer and dropped weight on a vegan diet, but was out of the rotation this season leading up to the trade.
Stauskas fluctuated from a starter to a reserve and struggled to find the shooting success he had at Michigan. He appeared in only six games for the Sixers this season.
“It’ll be nice to see Nik and Jah again; it’s been a while,” Dario Saric said. “They have (a) better opportunity there. It was, for their development, better for sure to go there and help their game.”
Okafor was back on the sidelines when he was traded to Brooklyn. The Nets held him out while the team worked with him on his conditioning. Okafor is averaging 5.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes over 14 games for the Nets. He is coming off a 21-point, six-rebound performance against the Timberwolves.
Staskas dropped 22 points in his first game with the Nets. He then had a stretch of offensive woes mixed in with DNPs, but like Okafor, bounced back in Brooklyn's last game (15 points and four rebounds).
“You always wish them well,” Brett Brown said. “You’re always happy to see them. They’re good people. They love basketball. You hope along their path you helped them out in some small way.”
The Sixers (24-23) will head to Brooklyn looking to snap a two-game skid after back-to-back losses on the road against the Thunder and the Bucks. The Nets (18-32) also will be hungry to break a three-game losing streak.
“We’re going to go at them,” Ben Simmons said. “It’s going to be fun, though, just seeing them. But at the same time we’ve got business to handle in Brooklyn.”