I have finally gone through the full roster except for one player: C Nerlens Noel. Noel is the second of the players that are on the roster that didn’t play last year, both of whom were out because of knee injuries. Noel is fully healed though and will be ready to go during Summer League, which will be his first games in a Sixers uniform. I’m very excited to see what the near 7-footer can do for them. He is projected to be their starting center next year if all goes according to plan. He could be really, really good.
Noel came to the Sixers in a blockbuster and surprising trade that sent PG Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for Noel and a first round pick. This came as a big surprise to Sixers fans, who had seen Holiday as their franchise PG. But new GM Sam Hinkie had other things in mind, liking Noel and a first round pick more, even if Noel was injured. He knew that they were going to be one of the worst teams next year anyway, so he was smart to grab Noel and a first round pick since they had drafted a new PG in Michael Carter-Williams that same year.
Noel doesn’t have any stats either (obviously) since he hasn’t played in a game yet, but I have no idea what kind of numbers he’ll put up once he gets out there. His first games will be in the Summer League, which will give him a nice segue into the preseason and then regular season. Like Carter-Williams, he will likely struggle a bit in the beginning. But those initial games will give him time to work through the issues and give him the experience necessary to be ready to play a lot of minutes in the regular season.
My only worry is that he won’t be big enough to play with some of the other big men around the league. At only 228 pounds, he’s smaller than SG Adonis Thomas, who weighs 240. It’s not like Noel has to be 300 pounds, but I think he’ll have to gain about 20 pounds if he doesn’t want to get pushed around in the paint. He probably has gained some weight since the 228 that’s listed on ESPN, but it’s unknown how much it is. Either way, he’ll need to gain weight at some point to stay competitive.
Verdict: keep him and put him as starting center