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Nerlens Noel to make season debut Sunday

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Noel will come off the bench.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers-Media Day Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After missing the first 23 games, Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel will be making his 2016-17 season debut on Sunday night.

Head coach Brett Brown said the plan is to bring Noel off the bench for the team’s game against the Detroit Pistons.

There’s no word on how many minutes he’ll play, but the Sixers will be without Joel Embiid, who is dealing with minor elbow inflammation after injuring himself in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night. Jahlil Okafor is expected to play after missing three games with gastroenteritis, and could start in Embiid’s absence.

Although he’s currently unhappy with the front court situation in Philadelphia, Noel’s return to the court will certainly be welcomed by Sixers fans. The team has really struggled to protect the rim when Embiid isn’t in the game, ceding 108.1 points when he’s on the bench in comparison to 96.4 points when he’s on the floor.

Noel, who was 15th in the NBA last year in blocks per game, will at least provide the second unit with a competent rim protector and pick-and-roll defender.

While his future certainly doesn’t seem to be in Philadelphia, hopefully Brown will give him enough opportunities to showcase himself for a trade prior the February trade deadline.