It’s becoming apparent that the Philadelphia 76ers will likely take LSU forward Ben Simmons with the first pick in the upcoming draft, which would leave them overloaded with big men.
While Simmons is versatile enough to play multiple positions on the floor, he would still be their fourth forward taken in the past four drafts. With Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, and former Kentucky Wildcats center Nerlens Noel already on the roster, someone’s got to go, and it looks like it could be Noel.
The Boston Celtics have the third overall pick, and according to 247 Sports they are looking to use it as trade bait to get Noel. There have been rumors that the trade could involve Okafor instead, but the Celtics seem more interested in the former Kentucky forward.
Per source, Celtics are interested in acquiring Noel, not Okafor, & would not be simple 1 for 1 trade. Lots of interest in 3rd pick.#Sixers— Jon Johnson (@jonjohnsonwip) June 21, 2016
Noel has really begun to show his potential now that he’s fully healthy. He spent his entire first NBA season on the bench thanks to the knee injury he suffered in a game against Florida while still at UK, but last season, he averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks-per-game for Philadelphia. With his production on the rise, Noel could be a meaningful contributor to a Boston team that is overstocked with guards and wing players, and could use an added inside presence.
Noel would bring that, as with Philadelphia last season he shot a very efficient 52%, proving to be one of the league’s better inside scorers, doing the most with his opportunities. On top of that, Noel accounted for 1/4 of the team’s blocks-per-game on the season, finishing in the top 20 in the league in that stat, helping to make the 76ers the third-best shot-blocking team in the NBA. He also helped salvage a few games for a struggling Sixers team, as his plus-minus differential was 3.3 points better than the team’s.
Should it happen, this is a trade that would positively impact everyone. The Sixers get Simmons, two picks in the top three, and they free up some space down low. Meanwhile, the Celtics get a good shot blocker and an efficient inside scorer. For Noel, he’d get to go to a team that is expected to compete for a title sooner than the Sixers, so he comes out pretty well in this as well.
Other rumors have swirled around, including one that shows the possibility of the New Orleans Pelicans making a move with the Sixers. If that were to happen, we could get to see an inside combination of Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel, which would have opponent shooting percentages plummeting, and Pelicans block numbers sky-rocketing. However, it seems likely that the Pelicans will be more interested in guards in this draft as they look to build around Davis, who has been a standout player on a team that has made the playoffs just once since drafting him.
Regardless of what deal is made, it’s highly likely that Noel will be on the move. The 76ers have to do something about the congestion in their front court, and Noel seems to have more trade value than Okafor at the moment.
Speaking of, Okafor is who the 76ers are working harder to deal instead of Noel, according to SNY TV.
Sources confirmed to SNY.tv that the Sixers are looking to trade former Duke big man Jahlil Okafor -- possibly to the Boston Celtics for the rights to the No. 3 pick (and possibly former Providence guard Kris Dunn). Because the Sixers will have a glut of big men with the addition of Simmons, they could move Okafor, who had off-court issues during his first year in Philadelphia, or possibly trade former Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel.
In the end, it's looking more likely that Noel or Okafor are on a new team by the end of the draft.
The question is, who will be the guy changing teams?