As of Sunday evening, Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel said what was collectively on the mind of many NBA fans, both inside and outside of Philadelphia: what are the Sixers doing with their frontcourt? Noel expressed his displeasure to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer about not having any kind of clarity of what the future will look like in the city of Brotherly Love, as the team plans to go into the season with three centers — Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid — all on the roster and expected to play significant roles.
In the wake of former general manager Sam Hinkie leaving the team, the Sixers have been stuck with the players he drafted, which includes the trio of centers that were collected like luxurious trinkets and not coherently formed to create a competitive basketball team. As Noel says, “It’s like having three starting quarterbacks. It doesn’t make any sense.”
For the former No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans (who immediately dealt him to the 76ers), not being the focal point is a new experience. Rated as the No. 1 player in the nation coming out of high school, Noel went to Kentucky for one season to prepare himself for the NBA, but tore his ACL and ultimately missed the entire first year of his NBA career before showing promise in his second season.
Noel finished last season averaging 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, but he saw the team select center Jahlil Okafor from Duke with the third overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, which moved him over from his center position to the power-forward spot. The two struggled to coexist last season, and now Embiid is being throw into the center mix. Not to mention Dario Saric and Ben Simmons are being added to the frontcourt mix as well.
Noel and Okafor have both been the subject of trade rumors, and while nothing has been worked out yet, many expect a deal to be made at some point.