Nerlens Noel on the 76ers: ‘It’s Just Silly…It Doesn’t Make Any Sense’

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

The Philadelphia 76ers landed center and No. 6 overall selection Nerlens Noel in a draft-day trade in 2013.

A year later, they drafted center Joel Embiid out of Kansas with the No. 3 pick.

A year after that, they selected Duke center Jahlil Okafor, also with the third pick.

Now the first elite center prospect to land there doesn't know why all three are still on the team.

"I think it's just silly … this situation that we are in now with three starting centers," Noel recently told the Philadelphia Enquirer. "With the departure of [former general manager and president] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to get something done this summer."

Noel, a springy defensive dynamo, missed his first season to injury. In the two years since, he's averaged 10.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game. In his rookie year, Okafor showed off his offensive polish with 17.5 points per game but showed he has a long way to go defensively.

Due to foot injuries, Embiid has yet to play in the NBA but is expected to play this season. He has the highest ceiling of the three, blending the rim protection of Noel and low-post beastliness of Okafor with something neither has—a jumper with range.

Noel is baffled one of the trio hasn't been traded yet. And while he's not demanding a trade of himself or one of his teammates, he doesn't understand why the 76ers haven't moved one of them to clear playing time for the other two.

"I feel like it definitely needs to be figured out," he said. "I think at the end of the day, again, you have three starting-caliber centers. And it's just not going to work to anybody's advantage having that on the same team. That's how I'm looking at it. I'm not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated."

The center was reportedly part of a trade that would have landed the team poing guard Jeff Teague before the deal fell through. Okafor was also allegedly discussed in trade talks.

The situation hasn't affected his relationships with Embiid and Okafor, though.

"Don't get me wrong. We all get along great on the court and off the court," Noel said. "But at the end of the day, it's like having three starting quarterbacks. It doesn't make any sense."

Still, regardless of his stance, Noel said that it won't affect his professionalism and how hard he works on his game.

"I'm here to do my job and play as hard as I can play for the city of Philadelphia," he said. "I've always loved the fans from the jump. It's probably one of the realest cities in the country with just genuine passion and love for the sport."

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