The Thirteen Misfit Toys

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Apr 5, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel (4) saves a ball from going out of bounds against the New York Knicks in front of referee

Joe Crawford

(17) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Center/Power Forward

Nerlens Noel

Another certainty for the 2015/16 roster is Nerlens Noel.  Noel arrived back in the 2013 draft when the team traded perennial team leader and fan favorite Jrue Holiday for the rights to just Pelican picked Noel and a first round pick.   Noel was an unusual acquisition at the time, as he was rehabbing a knee and would not be available to the team immediately.  But delays and deferrals, player today for draft picks tomorrow, all seem to fall in line in general manager Sam Hinkie’s grand plan.

The Sixers received the first installment of Hinkie’s delayed player plan when Noel took the floor in 2014.   I would have to debut was a smashing success.   The team focused on defense, and Noel was certainly a leader in virtually all team categories:  rebounds, steals and blocks.  And with Noel providing a fully legitimate NBA big body, the team was able to show some resolve in holding opponents to 8.9 fewer points per game.

Noel had a difficult path in the 2014/15 season.  His role was defense.  While he showed up big on the team in that role, he did not break the 10 points per game barrier in his first season.   As we had discussed earlier, with the arrival of Okafor, Noel will have more opportunity to score.

Another positive from Noel is his ability to convert fouls into points.   While some of the team’s top scorers whiff at the free throw line, Okafor did manage a more respectable 60.9% from the line.  As the season progresses, we’re hoping for that number to approach the 70% mark.

Noel is young, but he’s definitely one of the keystone’s to the future.  When he’s not playing alongside Okafor, he’ll rotate in behind him.  That versatility will ensure his roster role for years to come.

Next: Tony Wroten