3. Nerlens Noel
Nerlens Noel has been somewhat of a journeyman, as he’s already played for three teams over the course of his six seasons in the league. Although it seems as though Noel has been around forever, he’s only 25 years old and still has a lot of upside.
At 6-foot-10, Noel is an athletic big who provides stellar rim protection and great shot-blocking ability. Not only that, Noel can also catch lobs and has prior experience with Houston Rockets’ point guard Russell Westbrook. This season, the Kentucky product has played 18.9 minutes per night, which are the most minutes he’s played during his tenure in OKC.
Noel has per 36 averages of 15.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and three blocks, and would certainly get an increase in playing time if he were a member of the Houston Rockets. Noel is having an elite season, as his PER is 22.9 and his true shooting percentage is 71.5 percent, which would each rank second on the Houston Rockets.
From a contractual standpoint, Noel has an outgoing salary of $1.6 million, which means the Rockets could use their trade exception of $1.6 million to make the salaries match, but it would be a surprise if the Thunder were to just send him away without landing anything with upside in return.
The Rockets could certainly send the Thunder yet another first-round draft pick, which they would possibly covet since they’re continuing to stockpile draft picks for the future. On top of that, Noel is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, which may push OKC to make a move if there is a deal on the table.
Next: No. 2