Earlier this season, most people see Nerlens Noel as the odd man out of the City of Brotherly Love. He is set to become a restricted free agent next summer where the Philadelphia 76ers could lose him for nothing. However, after receiving enough playing time, Noel proves that he deserves to stay, making Jahlil Okafor a more realistic trade asset.
The arrival of Joel Embiid created a logjam at center in Philadelphia. As of now, they have three starting caliber centers whose battling for playing time. So far, Embiid showed that he really deserves to be the Sixers’ starting center. In 30 games, he averaged 19.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game.
Embiid is also currently the top favorite to win the 2017 Rookie of the Year. In the nearing February deadline, the Sixers are expected to deal either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel. Though Noel is clearly the one to be moved, it seems like the Sixers see no urgency to make a deal for now.
Should Nerlens Noel stay in Philly?
Recently, Embiid and Okafor were sidelined due to injury, giving Noel the opportunity to start. Fortunately, Noel managed to fill up the void and helped the Sixers win in their last two games. In their game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Noel had 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. Against the Milwaukee Bucks, he posted a double-double, 16 points, and 13 rebounds.
“I felt great,” Noel said. “It was a different type of opportunity. I just wanted to go out there and show my abilities.”
Noel didn’t only provide the much-needed boost on the defensive end but he also showed his improvement on the offensive end. With his impressive performance, should the Sixers give Noel the chance to be part of their long-term plan?
Noel’s improvement on both ends of the floor shows that he’s someone the Sixers can rely on. However, for Pete Sawan of The Sixers Sense, giving Noel playing minute could mean two things for the Sixers. It’s either they want him to stay or the management is trying to maximize his trade value for some sort of trade.
Nerlens Noel will be part of a free agency class whose center market is thin. Though he’s a restricted free agent, Noel will surely receive higher offers from other teams which could be a pain for the Sixers to match. In the nearing February trade deadline, the Sixers should make a specific decision whether they will keep or move Noel.
Photo courtesy: Patriarca12/Wikimedia