Nerlens Noel played just 5:32 against the Wizards on Nov. 7. And if you were looking for him to rebound in Saturday night's game against the Cavaliers, you would have found him languishing in his coach's doghouse once again; despite being listed as active and with no known injury concern, Noel logged a grand total of zero minutes played.
The Mavs went small with their starting lineup, with 39-year-old Dirk Nowitzki manning center and small-ball forward Harrison Barnes at the four. Other big men who got off the bench included Dwight Powell (16 minutes), Salah Mejri (nine minutes), Dorian Finney-Smith (six minutes), and rookie Maxi Kleber (two minutes), but with the Mavericks cutting the Cavs' lead to just one point late in the fourth quarter, Noel sat glued to the pine.
Carlisle also suggested the Cavs present a difficult matchup for opposing centers. However, with defensive-minded big man Tristan Thompson currently out with injury and Kevin Love logging heavy minutes at center, there appeared to be an opportunity for a physically gifted, defense-first big man like Noel to play a role. In Cleveland's most recent game, Rockets center Clint Capela, who is similar to Noel in both size and skillset, dropped a 19-point, 13-rebound double-double on LeBron James and Co.
Through 12 games - six of them starts - Noel has averaged just 5.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 0.8 blocks in 17.2 minutes per game.