Nerlens Noel, like many others, is baffled by the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster construction.
Having tanked for the last three seasons, the Sixers have accumulated a handful of young assets. However, most of their prized prospects play in the frontcourt, with three top-five picks in Noel, Joel Embiid, and Jahlil Okafor who can only thrive while playing center.
“I think it’s just silly … this situation that we are in now with three starting centers,” Noel told Keith Pompey of Philly.com. “With the departure of (former general manager and president) Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to get something done this summer.”
Hinkie took the “best player available” approach when drafting his team, and while that strategy makes perfect sense on paper, the team is now living out the consequences of Hinkie’s unbending devotion to dogma.
It’s not even a matter of contempt on the part of Noel. He gets along fine with his teammates and isn’t even pushing for a trade. A trade of some sort is inevitable to free the logjam.
“I feel like it definitely needs to be figured out,” Noel said. “I think at the end of the day, again, you have three starting-caliber centers. And it’s just not going to work to anybody’s advantage having that on the same team. That’s how I’m looking at it. I’m not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated.”
The situation has forced Noel, the longest-serving of Philadelphia’s young centers, into a tight spot as his rookie contract is slated to expire. Noel has proven to be a talented defender, but with a new contract at stake, Noel needs minutes to prove his worth before hitting the market.
But at the moment, Noel might be forced into a backup role behind Embiid (if healthy) or continue to start alongside Okafor in a frontcourt combination that produced miserable results last season.
In two seasons with Philadelphia, Noel has averaged 10.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.7 blocks in 30.1 minutes per game on 49 percent shooting from the field.