NBA

NBA Rumors: Nerlens Noel trade nears? Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor evolving into a formidable frontcourt duo

Nerlens Noel

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown envisions Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor as the team’s focal points in the offensive end and leading scorers. With the two big men evolving into a formidable frontcourt duo, the latest NBA rumors suggest that Nerlens Noel could be headed somewhere else before the trade deadline.

Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel were frequently mentioned in various trade rumors in the past months. After missing two seasons, Joel Embiid will finally play in the City of Brotherly Love, posing a threat for Okafor and Noel at the center position. Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo admitted that they were not comfortable having three starting-caliber centers on their team.

However, the Sixers are not moving one of their big men without getting a fair return. The 2015-16 NBA season was a disaster after the Sixers finish in the 15th spot in the Eastern Conference. Okafor and Noel were noticeably having a hard time finding their chemistry on the court.

Both big men have their own expertise where Okafor is a proven scorer while Noel’s defense is superior, making it harder for the Sixers which player to trade. Of all the three big men, Nerlens Noel was unhappy battling for the position. Though he is not asking to be traded, there were reports saying that he is ‘very open’ to be moved once the Sixers decide to make that decision.

Recently, Jahlil Okafor went through his first five-on-five full-contact scrimmage since training camp. The incoming sophomore hinted the possibility that he and Joel Embiid could play together in the upcoming season.

“Once we figure out, definitely we’ll be a force together,” Okafor said, also noting, “Jo is very skilled so we can put him anywhere on the floor. … We’re both excited to play together. It’s something that we’ve talked about and we’re looking forward to it.”

The duo of Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid gave the Sixers a new look, creating more space which is vital in the modern NBA. As shown in the Sixers’ preseason games, Embiid could occasionally knock down three-pointers.

“It’s just a matter of us getting in shape and be able to keep up and run the floor and guard every position,” Embiid said. “But I think us playing together, I’ve always thought that if you want to put your best defender on [Okafor], that’s going to leave me open. If you want to put your small defender on me, that leaves him open. We complement each other pretty well.”

With Ben Simmons and Nerlens Noel out due to injury, the possibility of Okafor-Embiid tandem is high in the upcoming 2016-17 NBA season. If they mesh well, the Sixers might think of moving Noel before the trade deadline than lose him in the 2017 NBA free agency without getting anything in return.

Photo courtesy: @nerlensnoel3/Instagram

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