Joel Embiid has been paired with Jahlil Okafor in the Sixers’ starting lineup. Now that Nerlens Noel is healthy, Embiid would like to have an opportunity with him, too.
“I also want to get on the court and see what we can look like together because I like him and I want to play with everybody,” Embiid said after the Sixers’ 108-93 loss to the Pelicans (see Instant Replay). “I feel like if we’re trying something, I feel like we should try the other thing too. Hopefully in the future they do that.”
Noel played 6:49, all in the third quarter, on Tuesday and finished with four points and three rebounds. The crowd gave Noel a standing ovation when he checked into the game (see story).
Embiid has been on the receiving end of plenty of those this season and was glad Noel experienced the same fan support.
“I loved it. He’s my best friend on the team and I was really happy for him,” Embiid said, also noting, “I thought he should have played more.”
The Sixers have taken Noel out of the regular rotation for the time being unless their bigs get into foul trouble or other circumstances. On Monday, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said they intend to give the combination of Embiid and Noel a look at some point this season (see story). Embiid can envision how this duo would translate on the floor.
“Because I have some type of relationship with him, I think I’m going to get him going, especially on the defensive end,” Embiid said. “Just being aggressive, blitzing every pick-and-roll, just flying all over the place, I think we can really do that while we’re on the court. Then offensively, I’m sure we’re going to figure that out.”
Embiid’s desire to play with Noel does not mean this is a Noel-or-Okafor situation. Embiid and Okafor also have a friendship away from the court — the two have known each other since high school — and they often pointed to it as a reason why they wanted to be paired together (see story).
“It’s a team game,” Embiid said. “So I’m just going to go out there every night and compete with what we have.”