Thunder’s Nerlens Noel officially placed in concussion protocol
Nerlens Noel took a hard elbow to the head from Andrew Wiggins on Tuesday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder took on the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was reported earlier Wednesday that Noel had suffered a concussion but no broken bones, and now the Thunder have confirmed that he’s entering concussion protocol after being knocked unconscious in the third quarter. Regarding Noel’s next steps, the Thunder state:
Per the NBA’s Concussion Policy, Noel will now begin the NBA-mandated Return-to-Participation Protocol. This process includes a series of steps designed to ensure an athlete exhibits symptom-free behavior before resuming basketball activities. There is no predetermined timetable to complete the protocol, as each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.
Noel is having somewhat of a resurgent season with Oklahoma City. He’s giving high energy minutes off of the bench, and he’s using his length and athleticism to give solid minutes on the second unit. Noel is averaging 5.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 0.5 assists in just under 14 minutes per game.
Noel’s injury will hurt the Thunder in the short term, but they are clearly taking a cautious approach with the center.
The Thunder are among the top teams in the Western Conference and find themselves 2.5 games back of the first-place Denver Nuggets. Paul George’s emergence as an MVP candidate is a huge reason for the Thunder’s success. George is averaging career highs in points (26.8), rebounds (8.0), and steals (2.2).
George is an elite player on both ends of the floor, and his decision to re-sign with Oklahoma City appears to be working out. The Thunder could be a potential threat in the Western Conference as long as they can remain relatively healthy.