OKC Thunder: Nerlens Noel tweaks ankle, Darius Bazley sees time at center
Thunder center Nerlens Noel has missed a few days of practice after tweaking his ankle, coach Billy Donovan said Saturday.
"He's been able to jog through some non-contact stuff," Donovan said, "but we've been really over precautious with him when we've done anything live ... just to make sure that we get him to a good place health wise."
Donovan expects Noel to practice with the team Sunday or Monday.
Noel is averaging 7.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game off the Thunder's bench.
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While Noel has been out, Darius Bazley has practiced some at center. Bazley, 6-foot-8 and 208 pounds, has primarily played power forward in his rookie season.
"If he puts on size and strength and continues to get better physically, then I think he could be a guy that could be so unique that I think he could play the small forward, power forward, and if you went to a small lineup, play at the center spot," Donovan said.
Donovan doesn't "see a great opportunity" for Bazley to receive minutes at center when the season resumes Aug. 1. The Thunder has three centers on its roster in Steven Adams, Noel and Mike Muscala.
But Bazley, who turned 20 last month, could grow into the role.
"He's just young and he needs to physically mature," Donovan said. "But I think if you're starting to look at him potentially three, four, five years from now, I would not be one bit surprised if he's a guy who's playing three or four different positions."