Philadelphia 76ers: Norvel Pelle’s hard work goes unrewarded

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Despite a stellar start to the 2019-20 season, the Philadelphia 76ers have opted against converting Norvel Pelle’s two-way contract before the deadline.

The 2019-20 season has kind of been a bummer for the Philadelphia 76ers, am I right?

I mean sure, when the team is firing on all cylinders, maybe even at full strength, they’ve looked borderline unstoppable against even the best teams in the East like the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks, but then again, how often has the team been able to fire on all cylinders?

10 games? Five? Just the aforementioned three?

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No, for as great as the Sixers are on paper, they very well may be the most maddening ‘great’ team in recent memory – a fact that becomes only more obvious with each blown lead, confusing loss, or new name on the medical report.

However, just because this season hasn’t been particularly fun for fans doesn’t mean it’s been totally bereft of bright spots. I mean, Ben Simmons hit not one, but two 3 pointers for crying out loud; how cool was that?

But the most pleasant surprise of the entire season has to be the emergence of Norvel Pelle as a legit backup center.

A 6-foot-10 rookie who has played for quite possibly every professional basketball league on Earth since going undrafted in 2014, Pell has spent time in the D-League, the G-League, Europe, Asia, and South America on a long, winding road to the NBA.

And despite making his NBA debut at the tender age of 26, Pelle did not look out-of-place on a Sixers squad absolutely loaded with centers.

Pelle’s one-man block party has been so infectious on a team desperate for off-the-bench energy that he’s all but iced Kyle O’Quinn out of the team’s rotation despite his status guaranteed roster spot and 463 games of NBA experience.

Based on merit alone, one would have to assume an elevation to the 15-man roster would be inevitable for such a valuable part of Brett Brown‘s rotation, but alas that just wasn’t in the cards.

According to Philly Voice’s Kyle Neubeck, the Sixers have opted against converting Pellle’s deal before the January 15th deadline to do so. With their eyes set to the trade deadline, and no intriguing option to accept a two-season two-way contract (which apparently exists, thanks Sam Vecenie for the assist), Elton Brand and company opted to keep maximum roster/cap flexibility, even if that means Pelle will only be eligible for two more NBA games this season.

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On the bright side, Norvel Pelle’s performances with the big club all but surely put him on track for a roster spot next season, a solid consolation prize for a center clearly playing the long-game with his career, but still, after watching the Philadelphia 76ers underperform compared to their potential, it hurts a little more to watch one of the team’s few all-effort guys’ hard work not pay off.