Houston Rockets Rumors: Nerlens Noel Taking Dwight Howard’s Spot?
The Dwight Howard experiment did not go well for the Houston Rockets. The team is reportedly looking at Nerlens Noel as a younger, cheaper and less controversial substitute.Advertisement
The Philadelphia 76ers are open to the idea of trading either Noel or Jahlil Okafor. 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo has gone on record saying that it would take a remarkable trade proposal for the team to even consider splitting its twin towers.
Lucas Johnson of The Sixer Sense noted that the Rockets have the necessary pieces that could land them Noel. The Rockets can offer the 76ers a trade package involving K.J. Daniels, Sam Dekker and two future second-round draft picks.
Nerlens Noel Role For 76ers
For the 76ers, the trade would help alleviate the logjam at the center spot. It would also provide the team with much-needed depth at the small forward position.
In Houston, Noel would be a slight upgrade over projected starting center Clint Capela. Noel averaged 4.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists more than Capela during the 2015-16 season.
It’s worth mentioning that newly-hired Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni prefers a fast-paced small-ball style of play. Noel would fit perfectly in D’Antoni’s system.
He is a low-maintenance rim protector who plays within the flow of the offense. He will bring to the Rockets what DeAndre Jordan brings to the Los Angeles Clippers, although to a lesser degree.
At 22 years old, Noel provides the Rockets with relatively fresh legs. Aging big men Nene Hilario and Ryan Anderson may not be able to keep up with D’Antoni’s infamous “07 seconds or less” offense.
The past few seasons, the Rockets tried to adopt D’Antoni’s system, which the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors had some success replicating. Head coaches Kevin McHale and J.B. Bickerstaff failed to make the small-ball offense work, mainly because of personnel issues.
Dwight Howard’s Thoughts
Howard did not want to be a part of a run-and-gun style of play. He wanted to have touches in the paint so he can punish opposing defenses with his low-post moves. His unwavering defiance ultimately led to growing frustrations on the court.
“I’m always interested in winning. But you know, as a big, sometimes you want to feel a part of what’s going on. I’m always interested in the game,” Howard told Inside the NBA’s Charles Barkley, via The Source. “I’ve had the problem with smiling too much—people say I smile too much—so when I’m not smiling and doing all that stuff, it looks like I’m not interested in the game.”