With all the NBA trade rumors surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers this NBA season, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Joel Embiid might not all be a trio for much longer, or could there be a different plan in the works?
The 76ers have until mid-February before they need to make a final decision on a trade involving one of their three centers/forwards with the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks or another NBA franchise. Even with Philadelphia having a surplus of players at the center position, could they be planning to keep all three players?
It is doubtful, but for argument’s sake, let’s say they decide not to trade any of their three big men. How can they make this trio all get enough playing time to make all parties happy? Is it feasible and best for the franchise to have three big men on the same NBA roster and win?
A positive for Philadelphia is if they do decide to trade any of their big men, they can have a “twin towers” team like the San Antonio Spurs had in the late ’90s and early 2000s with David Robinson and Tim Duncan. What made that team become an NBA champion franchise was, at that time, Robinson was already a respected veteran of the NBA, and Duncan was still learning how to become a solid NBA player. That duo won two NBA titles, and both are either in or will be in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Looking at the 76ers roster, Noel, Okafor, and Embiid aren’t at the level of player that Robinson and Duncan were; at least not yet. Plus, the Spurs at that time had a solid roster built around their two superstar big men, and right now the 76ers don’t have that.
Nothing can be said or done that makes the best sense for Philadelphia to keep all three big men and not trade one of them for players who can improve the overall health of the roster.
Philadelphia must make the NBA trade rumors a reality and trade either Noel or Okafor. Of those two NBA players, Noel could be the one who is easier to let go, but would Okafor bring more of a deal in a trade?
It is well documented Noel has been prone to missing many games throughout his short NBA career, including most of this current season. Noel still has very high potential at the NBA level, but of the three players listed, Noel might be the best off with a change of scenery via trade.
In 10 games this season, Noel is averaging 14.1 minutes per game, but in his past two NBA games, he played at least 24 minutes in each. In three games this January, he’s averaging 20 mpg. Besides his minutes, Noel averages 7.3 points per game and three rebounds per game. Even when healthy, he seems like the odd man out for Philadelphia right now. Embiid has played in 25 games, averaging 19.4 ppg and 7.3 rpg. Thus far in January, he’s averaging 22.7 ppg in 26.7 mpg.
To answer the initial question, does keeping Embiid and Noel make sense for Philadelphia? The answer is a simple no.
The NBA trade rumors for either one of those players need to come true. If not, Philadelphia will stay an NBA franchise near the bottom of the NBA standings in the Eastern Conference until they start surrounding their big men with better players. To do that, they must trade either Noel, Embiid or Okafor. It is as simple as that.
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