Nerlens Noel: “This Year’s Been Great”

Nerlens Noel working with Sixers head coach Brett Brown.

Nerlens Noel working with Sixers head coach Brett Brown.

There has not been a lot for Sixers fans to be thrilled about this season. However, there appears to be quite a bit of promise and optimism for the future. The weight of that optimism sits on the shoulders of the Sixers’ two rookies, Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.

Carter Williams is giving the faithful reason to look forward to the future. The young point guard has been well worth the 11th overall pick used on him and has been the wire to wire frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.

Noel cost the Sixers a bit more in the form of the 6th overall pick and the team’s All-Star point guard, Jrue Holiday. The big man out of Kentucky has been sidelined for the entire season. Despite the setback, he is not looking at this as a lost one.

Noel met with the media after Sixers practice on Tuesday. The team has been protective of Noel and we haven’t heard from the rookie much at all this season. Our only real words from Noel have been in the form of social media posts and he isn’t exactly an addict.

Noel was asked by reporters about his experience this season and he characterized it as a learning experience. He has learned a lot from Coach Brown and the few veterans on the roster earlier in the season.

The Sixers have done a stellar job creating an environment for Noel where he could learn and grow. Noel and Brown have spent hours together in practice, and also before and after games, reconstructing the big man’s shot. Noel in college was known as a player that finished around the rim using his athletic ability, but that was it.

If the Sixers can develop his jump shot into something that can stretch defenses just a little bit, Noel will add a whole new dimension to his game as will the Sixers to their offense.

Noel also assured reporters that he is currently at 100% despite not receiving clearance from the Sixers to play. The cryptic “4-4-14,” tweet actually did have meaning. Noel admitted that he was hoping to see the court on that day, but that the team decided against it.

Nerlens Noel claims he's added three inches to his vertical leap. SCARY (credit: SportsIllustrated)

Nerlens Noel claims he’s added three inches to his vertical leap. SCARY (credit: SportsIllustrated)

While he might not be on the court, Noel has put in work off the floor. He claims that he has added three inches to his vertical compared to before his injury and that he has dedicated himself to the weight room and has added some size and strength.

It says a lot about the Sixers that they have handled Noel in such a smart way. He is clearly a key piece to this rebuild and the team understands that. Not playing does not equate to not improving.

Noel has been at Sixers practice and games all season. He is learning as much as the other young players on the team and has a great vantage point to see the concepts in action from the sidelines. When you hear Noel reference the bond he has with his teammates and his desire to get out there and help, you can’t help but feel like the organization is bringing him up right.

As a 19 year old, Noel has a lot of growing, maturing and learning to do. From listening to him, he sounds like he is on the right track.

Just sitting Noel for the entire season would have been a mistake if he was not properly cultivated. From everything we see and hear, it sounds like he was. Sixers fans should get their first glimpse at Noel in Summer League action alongside Carter-Williams, although Noel said that playing this season is still under consideration by the team.

The two have not played together since AAU ball as youngsters and they will be tasked with leading the Sixers into a brighter future.

Follow Ray on Twitter @DJ_RaYdio

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Posted on April 9, 2014, in 76ers, Ray Boyd and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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