2015-16 Sixers Roster Preview: The Front Court

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Apr 8, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel (4) dribbles the ball around Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (4) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Starters

As I previously mentioned, the starters are going to be Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Noel started 71 games last year, so it’s no surprise that his second full year will have him leading the Sixers. It’s safe to assume that Okafor will be taking over the reigns as a center starter this season, too, since the rest of the options haven’t played all that well.

BREAKING NEWS: Sixers Sign Kendall Marshall

Furkan Aldemir is the only player listed as another center according to NBA.com since Guillermo Hernangomez was traded to the New York Knicks. Henry Sims has left the team, and Arturas Gudaitis — although putting up decent numbers in foreign leagues — was traded to the Sacramento Kings as part of the trade that brought Philadelphia Nik Stauskas.

So, that leaves us with Okafor starting at center, and Noel starting at power forward, despite his traditional strong suit being at center. Could we see Noel take over at center in some instances? I’m sure that’s not out of the question. When guys like Aldemir and Robert Covington come in to play at the four spot, there’s a chance Okafor could sit and Noel would be the big man. I think Noel being a versatile player who can play either front court slots is a good idea.

With the trend in the NBA currently leaning to power forwards that can shoot three pointers, Noel is at a disadvantage, but he knows this completely. For this reason, he’s been working on his jump shot this summer. This Philly.com article reported that Noel has been working on form and his shot for two hours a day, five days a week this summer, a promising bit of information for Sixers fans.

With zero attempted three pointers last year, I hope that he at least has improved enough to try his hand at some longer shots. Last year 79% of his attempted shots were from 10 feet or shorter, so some more range is definitely called for.

With Okafor, his troubles are on the other end of the floor. His troubles coming out of college were a bad work ethic on defense, and a lack of effort in contesting shots. Noel is known for his hops and getting up to block shots (1.9 per game), so if Okafor wants to help make the Sixers one of the most dominant front courts, he’ll have to step up his game and actually leave his feet on defense, and not just offense.

Scoring is a huge part of the game — and something the Sixers need help with — but still, defensive effort is necessary, and his laziness will only be amplified in the NBA if he can’t address his defensive issues immediately.

Next: The Reserves