Nerlens Noel has been ruled out of tonight’s game against Toronto due to an ankle sprain, but there’s a good chance he’ll be back on the floor on Friday. If he is, it will likely be the first game of the season in which the Sixers will have Noel, Joel Embiid, and Jahlil Okafor all healthy and available. And according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, head coach Brett Brown believes the three young centers can coexist, contrary to popular belief.
“[It can work] if they buy in and let me coach them and put them in positions where they truly have a chance to succeed,” Brown said. As Pompey writes, Embiid would be the starting center and franchise player in this scenario, with Okafor providing an offensive spark and Noel as a defensive specialist off the bench.
As for Noel, who has been critical in the past of the club’s roster construction, expressing skepticism about how the frontcourt rotation will work, he has changed his tune a little, according to Pompey. Based on recent practices, Noel believes two of the bigs will be on the floor together at once, running a high-low offense.
“I think a new offense is something good,” Noel said. “It’s something that can really somewhat work with the big trailing, the big at the free-throw line. So I think it’s more compact, and spacing will definitely be a key factor.
“I wasn’t curious before,” Noel said, “but now that we are actually here, I guess that I am curious, whatever that means. But we will let that play out as long as it needs to.”
While Brown is optimistic and Noel is willing to give it a shot, there’s still plenty of doubt about whether Embiid, Okafor, and Noel can coexist. One of them will likely be moved at some point, and Noel looks like the strongest candidate to go. In a podcast this week, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported that some potential suitors doing research on Noel were wary of his habits and the way he carries himself, so perhaps his latest comments reflect a conscious effort to convey a positive attitude.