East Coast

Sixers fall to Clippers 119-98, Noel has Monster Night

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As of late, the Sixers have been following the game plan of losing to secure draft picks as they fell to the Clippers 119-98 on Friday night. Any basketball purist looks at Sam Hinkie’s approach in disgust, but as the sports landscape changes, so should conventional thinking of how to build a franchise. Losing has value.

Along with the loss, the game had other bright spots. The Sixers outscored the Clippers in the second and fourth quarters and, outside of a dismal third quarter, looked decent for a team going into the final stage of the season. Ish Smith also had 18 points and has come on as someone who can really facilitate the offense. Off the bench, Luc Mbah a Moute finished with 13 points during his 22 minutes, shooting 60% from beyond the arc.

All of these bright spots seem quite dim when we examine Nerlens Noel. With a monster game of 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 steals, Noel is emerging as the franchise’s best player and one of the most explosive in the league. Noel logged 39 minutes during the contest, the most of any player, and for good reason. He’s come on as a strong and definitive presence in the post and is slowly but surely developing a mid range shot, as Noel shot a lights out 12-17 from the floor.

Many question Sam Hinkie’s vision and Brett Brown’s process, but Noel is proof that it can work. From a timid player to now a fearless one, Noel is a must-have for the Sixers moving forward. Pairing Noel with Joel Embiid come next season could be dangerous, especially so if Embiid lives up to the hype.

It is impossible to say if this will workout for the Sixers long term, but with a consistent pattern of mediocrity in the last decade, it’s certainly worth a shot.

 

Image: Philly.com