After a bounce-back season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Philadelphia 76ers should strongly consider bringing back 2013 ‘Process’ starter Nerlens Noel.
For the first time in his soon to be six-year career in the NBA, Nerlens Noel is officially a free agent, and after a bang-up performance as the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s small ball center, it looked like the ex-Philadelphia 76ers draftee is about to get paid.
And rightfully so.
While it’s been a while since Noel was considered a marquee talent, or even consistently started, he turned heads in his (presumably) lone season with the Thunder, averaging 4.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in only 13.7 minutes of action a night.
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Are those All-Star numbers? No way, but they are encouraging when compared to Noel’s less than stellar stat line in Dallas, and even his final season in Philadelphia.
Remember when Noel was the 76ers’ starting center for the better part of three seasons (171 games with 140 starts)? Boy those were the days.
Who knows, maybe a reunion between the two parties could help to capture some of that mid-Process magic?
I mean think about it, the 76ers do not have a true backup center on the roster right now, with the closest thing being either Jonah Bolden a natural power forward, or starting point guard Ben Simmons.
And hey, speaking of Ben Simmons, could you even imagine his giving-‘n-go potential when paired with a speedy big man like Noel? The Sixers’ fastbreak game would be unstoppable.
Furthermore, while Noel really can’t do much on the offensive end of the court when he’s outside of the paint, making one 3 pointer on four attempts over his career, the 6-foot-11 Kentucky product is actually a very versatile defender, who can guard any frontcourt position, maybe even shooting guards if switched off in a pinch.
With Noel back in the fray, the Sixers could once again experiment with a ‘two towers’ big man lineup and experiment with Joel Embiid as an offensive power forward.
Now I’m not saying that this sort of ultra-big lineup would be used for 20 minutes a night, but the team already runs essentially the same sort of set but with Ben Simmons in the dunker spot, why not maintain that continuity when the team’s starting point guard is on the bench with a similarly athletic lob target?
I mean Noel and Emiid already have great chemistry off the court, as the duo still remain good friends, why not see if that can translate back onto it?
Now before we get too far along, there is a pretty big caveat as to whether Noel would even be interested in returning to Philadelphia and that is his market.
Obviously, if a team like New Orleans, one of the New York teams, or one of the Los Angeles teams offers Noel a chance to compete for a starting role, it’s going to be hard to imagine him (or his agent) turning that down for reserve role in Philly, but if his market is once again soft, like it was before his final year in Dallas or before his first year in OKC, it’s entirely possible a reunion could be in the cards.
Between Embiid’s health, his presumed load management schedule, and almost 200 games of experience in Brett Brown‘s scheme, Philly could and should be pretty high on Noel’s potential free agency landing spot list.
With the Philadelphia 76ers’ mid-level option more likely than not going to be spent on a reserve big man of some sort, why not target a player like Nerlens Noel who is friends with Joel Embiid and has experience in Brett Brown’s system, even if he isn’t a particularly effective shooter from outside? I mean he did effectively start ‘The Process’ back in 2013, why not bring him back to #complete it?
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