CLEVELAND - Jahlil Okafor has yet to play in a preseason game for the 76ers. However, the center looked good while working out for an hour and 45 minutes Saturday before the loss to Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena.
The 6-foot-11, 265-pound center made some corner threes and displayed his trademark post moves, his shirt saturated with sweat. Fatigue ultimately set in, leading him to miss some shots toward the end of his session.
But the 20-year-old didn't look like someone who is being held out because of knee soreness associated with surgery on March 22 to repair his right meniscus. That injury cost him the final 23 games of last season.
The Sixers, however, haven't seen much of him in practice, and that's one of the things delaying his debut.
"What you saw on the floor [during pregame] is more than we've seen at practice in a while," coach Brett Brown said. "People shouldn't get nervous about that. It's part of bringing him back into the mix. Our anticipation is he is not that far away."
Brown believes Okafor will be ready by the Oct. 26 season opener against Oklahoma City at the Wells Fargo Center.
The second-year player's main goal is to be 100 percent for that game. Once Okafor is on the court, he wants to be focused solely on his job.
"Every day I realized last year your mind would wander with all the traveling," Okafor said. "It's hard to explain, but just being focused during the season, that's my main goal."
The time away has enabled him to watch different scenarios unfold on the court and see how the younger players are coached. Okafor, in turn, has been able to help his younger teammates because in most instances, they are being taught the things he learned last season.
The mental reps "are similar to the position I was in last season after I had my surgery," he said. "I'm just watching the game, learning the game. I'm back here with the coaches after the guys are warming up, hearing what they are talking about. And you just see another side to the sport that we play."
Joel Embiid and Gerald Henderson were limited to 13 minutes, 23 seconds on Saturday. Dario Saric was only on the court for 18:12. The Sixers have restricted their playing time in all three preseason games.
"I think you are going to see those minutes start to increase," Brown said. "But always in any discussion, we have that the end game: How do we get them ready for opening night?"
There's a chance that two starters won't be ready for the start of the regular season. Jerryd Bayless will have more tests on his sore left wrist. And Ben Simmons is expected to miss three months with a Jones fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.