Nerlens Noel: “I’m Too Good To Be Playing 8 Minutes”
After receiving just eight minutes of playing time in Friday night’s 100-89 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, fourth-year center Nerlens Noel continued to voice frustrations over the team’s depth at the center position.
“I need to be on the court playing basketball. I think I’m too good to be playing 8 minutes. That’s crazy. That’s crazy,” Noel said, repeating “that’s crazy” a few more times for extra impact. “(They) need to figure this shit out.”
Noel went on to place most of the blame for the situation on the Sixers front office.
“I think there’s too much on the coach’s plate,” Noel said. “(But) the guys that run the operations, they do what they do.”
When asked how he wanted the situation resolved, Noel didn’t have a preferred solution. He just wants to play.
“I just want to be on the court playing basketball. I don’t really care who I’m playing with,” Noel said. “Ideally, I’d just like to be playing basketball. Just doing my thing, care free.”
Noel voiced his concerns about the Sixers frontcourt depth prior to the start of training camp.
The Sixers had both Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game, but midway through the third quarter Brown switched to playing lineups that only had one traditional big man in the game, which cut into Noel’s minutes. Noel did not make an appearance in the second half.
“When they started going (small), something had to give,” head coach Brett Brown said, referring to his second half adjustment. “Nerlens was a casualty to that, as well as his health is not 100%.”
The Lakers started the game on a 13-0 run against the experimental Embiid-Okafor starting lineup. Okafor and Embiid have appeared on the court together for just 48 minutes so far this season, with 33 of them coming in the last two games.
“We got jumped at the start. I thought the speed of the game caught us a little bit off guard,” Brown said after the game. “At no point did you feel like you were in any type of rhythm or flow. It doesn’t really surprise me. It saddens me, but it doesn’t surprise me.”
“We’ve got a lot to work on to be able to play together,” Joel Embiid said about his pairing with Okafor. “I thought we had a bad defensive game. I’m the type of guy, if I play defense, I want everybody around me to do the same. I think the whole team needs to do a better job, especially when coach wants to play (Okafor) and I at the same time.
“I think the offense is kind of too focused on the post play instead of just playing basketball,” Embiid went on to say.
Noel made his second appearance of the season tonight after undergoing surgery to repair an inflamed plica prior to the start of the season. He missed the previous game against the Toronto Raptors after spraining his left ankle in his season debut against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.
Noel was listed as questionable earlier in the day because of the ankle injury and wasn’t cleared to play until just before start time.
Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.