This rebuild has always been about superstars. Superstars win championships. Kobe. Jordan. Magic. All are superstars who made their teammates better, dominated their opposition, and came through when it mattered. They are winners.
Hinkie has always been very clear that his objective is to attain superstars, and that he will only move to improve the team once those stars are in place. He claims this should be apparent to everyone. When a reporter has the temerity to wonder how he'll know whether or not that superstar is on the roster, Hinkie responds that, "We'll all know," as if it is entirely self-evident. There are no criteria for knowing if a superstar is on the team outside of just knowing.
Well, if it's self-evident when a superstar is on the team, it should follow that it is also self-evident when a superstar is not. And guess what? Nerlens Noel is not a superstar.
Superstars carry their teams. They single-handedly win games. They do things like this. They lead their teams, preventing them from going on historic losing streaks. They get endorsement deals. Nerlens Noel has done none of these things.
Let's look at some numbers, shall we? Noel has an inordinate amount of difficulty scoring. Noel can't shoot at all. Nearly 80% of his shot attempts come within 10-feet of the basket, and yet he has only shot 46% from the field in his rookie season. He can't even score 10 measly points a game. If one rookie has looked like a superstar this season, it's been Andrew Wiggins, who averaged 17 points per game, and scored 20 points or more in 11 of his last 15 games. Noel only topped 20 points twice in the entire season, let alone the final 15 games.
Not only can he not score, but he struggles to catch the ball to an astonishing degree. It's like he dipped his hands in cement and waves around concrete mittens on the basketball court, hoping they might somehow stick to the ball. That might work on the defensive end, where you can just swat at the ball, but in order to possess it, you need to be able to catch it. Superstars can catch the ball. That Noel ever struggled at all in that regard, probably should have tipped us all off immediately to his extreme lack of potential.
And have we all forgotten the 17 straight losses to begin the season? What about the 10 straight to end it? Superstars prevent their teams from going on streaks like these. In fact, what has Nerlens actually won? He played for a historically poor Sixers' team this year, and he didn't provide any sort of leadership to prevent their record-tying 26 game losing streak. Even when he was at Kentucky, he didn't experience any success. Since John Calipari started at UK, the Wildcats have been to four Final 4's and an Elite 8 in six seasons. The exception? Noel's lone year in Lexington, when Kentucky went 21-12 and lost in the first round of the NIT. Not the NCAA. The N-I-T. There is only one common denominator with all of this losing—Nerlens Noel.
Noel can't score. He clearly isn't a leader, having failed at each stop in his last three years. And the Sixers have a better prospect who plays the same position doing things like this. It's time to cut Noel loose. Swipe left. And let's pray the Sixers can find somebody better in the draft. Maybe Minnesota would be interested in trading Wiggins for Noel. I can't imagine why they would be fooled into thinking the two have anything approximating equal value, but we can all dream.
(Note: I don't actually believe any of this. Noel is a defensive savant who may have a questionable fit with Embiid, but has shown himself to be incredibly valuable as a contributor to this organization. Dat hair. Dem blocks. Dose quick feet. This is the easiest call of our Tinder Series. Sign him to all of the max contracts, please and thank you.)
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