What Noel’s Injury Means for OKC


The Oklahoma City Thunder have lost a major cog in their rotation, as Nerlens Noel will be out indefinitely after suffering a concussion last week against Minnesota. Noel’s devastating injury will leave a hole for OKC at backup center. There’s no timetable for his return to the court, but he will hopefully have a speedy recovery.

OKC must address their center depth issue within the next few days. Noel and Steven Adams are the only true centers on this team. With Noel out indefinitely, OKC will need to find a short-term replacement or split Noel’s 15.6 minutes/game among the rest of their roster.

Next Men Up

OKC has the length and athleticism to play small lineups against most teams, but in the next eight games, they’ll play teams with a dominant post presence. Expect Patrick Patterson to see an extended run over the next few games to cover the hole. He won’t supply the same amount of energy or rim protection as Noel, but he will be more of a presence around the perimeter on offense. This gives the Thunder a much different look than what they have with Nerlens.

Jerami Grant will need to switch on to 5s more often as he did against the Spurs. His lack of strength will hurt him in those situations, though. LaMarcus Aldridge bullied his way to the basket every opportunity he had against Grant, leading to a career-high 56 points. Just imagine how Joel Embiid or Anthony Davis will react when Grant is defending them.

Allowing Aldridge to score 56 points was alarming for a stout defensive OKC team. After Steven Adams rolled his ankle late in 4th quarter, things became even more clear that the Thunder need another giant.

Nerlens Noel’s loss will become more obvious as the season continues. Whether it’s a trade or a ten-day contract, the Thunder need to find a backup center. The next few games will be crucial, as they face tough teams and their Western Conference opponents continue their strong play.




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