The only draw of the 76ers opening night (both on the road and at home) is the debut of delayed-rookie Nerlens Noel. When Noel was drafted last year, he looked like the 76ers’ center of the future. But after this year’s draft and the selection of also-delayed Joel Embiid, Nerlens is going to be playing at the power forward spot, or at least trying to. According to Brett Brown, he never saw this coming:
“I said from Day 1 I never intended on playing Nerlens at a 4. I anticipated probably getting Andrew Wiggins as our (2014 top draft) pick and he’s back at a 5. All of a sudden, you get Joel. I feel like this is a great opportunity for us to try something and see how they can co-exist.”
When there was a chance we could get the #1 pick in the lottery, people wanted Wiggins. When there were rumblings he could fall to #3 (behind Embiid and Parker), people wanted Wiggins. When Embiid got hurt and shifted around the top picks, people wanted to trade up to #1 to get Wiggins. It makes sense that Brett Brown wanted (or at least thought he’d be getting) Wiggins, but once Embiid got hurt, Hinkie’s plans presumably changed, and it became Brown’s job from that day to make sure Embiid and Noel could play together. Tonight, we’ll begin to see if Nerlens can play alone.