Nerlens Noel is back in Philadelphia recovering from preseason surgery and preparing to return to the floor with the 76ers.
Ben Simmons, the team’s No. 1 overall pick is also rehabbing from surgery and expects — at least according to his buddy and teammate Joel Embiid — to be back in the fold sometime soon as well.
The Sixers have split time between Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Rishuan Holmes at center. They have split time betweenErsan Ilyasova and Dario Saric at power forward.
Soon they will have two more players who are molded to play the 4 or 5 position.
“It’s going to be hard,” head coach Brett Brown told the media recently. “You can talk about maybe playing two of them together to free things up. None of us can underestimate that we have pretty good ‘4’ men in Dario and Ersan. It’s not like we just bump people down. It’s on me as the head coach to figure it out.”
Having seven players taller than 6-foot-10 should be a luxury. The only problem is, many of those are franchise cornerstones and young players who need to see action. Short of a trade — which many expect could send Nerlens Noel packing, if not someone else — Brown will need to make sense of his roster.
Just to educate the causal fan, here is what Brown is left to deal with:
— 7-foot Joel Embiid (third overall pick in 2013)
— 6-foot-11 Jahlil Okafor (third overall pick in 2015)
— 6-foot-11 Nerlens Noel (sixth overall pick in 2013)
— 6-foot-10 Dario Saric (12th overall pick in 2014)
— 6-foot-10 Ben Simmons (first overall pick in 2016)
— 6-foot-10Ersan Ilyasova (recently acquired via trade with Thunder)
— 6-foot-10 Richaun Holmes (second-rounder)
As you can see, there’s a lot of talent — most of it drafted recently and highly —and there are only two spots on the floor, with 48 minutes each to offer the respective players above.
There is no mathematical way to get more than two on the floor at once (short of perhaps playing Simmons at small forward) and as was seen last season when Noel and Okafor shared the floor, it’s hard for the aforementioned big men to cooperate.
There are certainly worse problems for a coach to have, but few envy the decisions Brown will need to make in the coming months.