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Nerlens Noel, who was held out the entire season with Sixers: ‘I’ve been 100 percent for months now’

May 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Nerlens Noel Nerlens Noel

The Sixers finished with the second worst record in the league this season, thanks in part to trading away veteran talent in Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes in exchange for rookies or future draft draft picks.

But they also didn’t necessarily field a lineup featuring the team’s best available players.

Nerlens Noel was selected sixth overall in the 2013 draft by the Pelicans, and came to Philadelphia in the draft night deal for Holiday. He was projected to go even higher, but concerns over a torn ACL injury he suffered lingered, and he eventually missed his entire rookie season.

It appears as though he could have played, however, based on comments he made in an interview with Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

“I’ve been 100 percent for months now,” Noel told the Globe. “I feel great and continue to get stronger in all parts of my body, just continuing my growth really. I will be playing in summer games and summer league.”

This is where commissioner Adam Silver’s definition of the term “tanking” differs from the one held by the rest of us.

“My understanding of tanking would be losing games on purpose,” Silver said during All-Star weekend in New Orleans. “And there’s absolutely no evidence that any team in the NBA has ever lost a single game, or certainly in any time that I’ve been in the league, on purpose. And, to me, what you’re referring to I think is rebuilding.  And I’m not sure it’s just a function of the collective bargaining agreement; I think there’s a balance with any team of the need to look out to the future and at the same time put a competitive product on the floor.”

The Sixers worked on developing Noel plenty, and head coach Brett Brown personally worked him out extensively before games on the main arena floor — an unusual practice for any NBA coach on game nights.

But it’s hard to argue that he couldn’t have used the time to develop more quickly during live game situations, and it’s almost certain that Philadelphia would have been more competitive had Noel been a part of the team’s late-season rotation — something which he himself said he was capable of, if in fact he really has been back to 100 percent for “months.”

  1. iusoutherner - May 24, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    Alas, we are quickly learning how to tell when Commissioner Silver is lying- his lips move!

  2. bjf59 - May 24, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    As a Sixers fan, I am happy we sat him the entire year. Not because we wanted to lose (which most fans approved of) but because I want his knee to be perfect before he takes the floor. Look at all the big men that have had problems with knees. If you can avoid it with a year on the bench why not. And as a Redskin fan, I don’t trust a player or Dr. Andrews when they say the player is 100%. Not tanking, the players that played went hard and tried to win.

  3. lowpostfootwork - May 24, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    Finally get to see Noel in Summer League. I’m a little more excited about summer league than next season. Most of the talent will disappear on a bench or in the D-League when they could be a starter or role player…. ex: Archie Goodwin.. stuck behind Bledsoe, Dragic, and Green

  4. tcclark - May 24, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    theres a difference between being a 100% healthy and being ready to play NBA basketball. has he been in game shape for months now? what if they felt like he needed more time to develop? is a draft and stash tanking too? Im pretty sure Arselan Kazemi could have helped the Sixers too. Let teams develop their players they feel is right. the sixers played hard every night. if you watched them play you never would accuse them of tanking.

    • kinggw - May 24, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      No matter the talent level, you don’t lose 26 in a row if you play hard every night.

      You must be delusional to think the Sixers weren’t deliberately tanking. The worst part about it is that it didn’t work. They wanted Wiggins and they won’t get him.

      They can claim they are developing the kid all they want, Noel will get better playing against Nba talent, not posting up his 5’11 coach.

      • urallstupid - May 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        oh so a bunch of high schoolers wouldnt lose 26 in a row in the nba if they played “hard” every night?

        tanking from a management standpoint might be great, but players wouldnt tank. why would i purposely do bad at my job, which affects my future pay and/or job prospects? you’re dumber than a brick if you think the players would do that just so the team (and you’re not even guaranteed to still be there when they draft) can get a higher draft pick and replace you anyways.

        as for noel, rather him take longer to come back than rushed.

      • fanofthegame79 - May 24, 2014 at 10:38 AM

        And to think that they still didn’t end up with the worst record in the league – despite that 26-game losing streak.

      • adoombray - May 24, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        High Schoolers would win 1 in 26 if the Sixers were a team they played against

  5. TheMorningStar - May 24, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Philadelphia is going to be a force in the Eastern Conference ina few years.

    Along with a rebuilt Boston squad; its going to be akin to the early 1980s wars these two franchises engaged in.

    The East is on notice.

    • 1historian - May 24, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      Those were good days, especially when the Celts won most of the time.

      • TheMorningStar - May 24, 2014 at 5:19 PM

        I was too yoing to truly appreciate how great both squads were. Looking back, i have much respect for those 76er teams.

        Still, the 1982 Eastern Conference finals is painful; the Celtics were the better team; they would have beaten LA.

  6. eagles512 - May 24, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    Every team in the league would hold out their #1 pick if he was coming off an ACL and could MAYBE play a month when you are on pace to win 15-20 games.

  7. andyp03 - May 24, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    yeah, so he would’ve played a 3rd of the season and helped them win, say, 6 more games.. even still, they miss the playoffs and aren’t in as good a draft position.. it’s called playing your odds and not risking further injury to a potential franchise player for a few wins in a lost season.. this article is dumb and on top of it, it’s all based on conjecture.. “Philly almost…” ALMOST!! “… certainly would’ve been more competitive late in the season had Noel played.” There’s no way to even prove that. Dumb.

    • asimonetti88 - May 24, 2014 at 12:39 PM

      If he could have won 6 games in a third of a season, that would be beyond historic. They’d be doing history a disfavor if that’s what he could have done for them.

  8. philliesnuts - May 24, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Every true Sixers fan has known the plan since Sam Hinkie took over. No one said anything about the Clippers when they held Blake Griffin out his first year due to a torn ACL. ACL’s are not something to rush, especially for a corner stone player like Noel. That being said I believe this past year has been a success and am excited to watch the Sixers, something I haven’t been able to say in a long time. In Hinkie we trust!

  9. zukny1 - May 24, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Some may not take into consideration that Noel is still growing. It’s not like he is 25 years old and just tore his ACL. Let that thing heal and let him grow into his body before putting him on the floor.

    No team in their right mind would have played Noel this season.

  10. stephenlin - May 24, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    I’m not even a 76ers fan, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Nerlens plays and what he does to improve the team. The NBA is a better place with great big men.

  11. sportsfan18 - May 24, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    So old Silver Tongue Adam Silver says his definition of tanking would be losing games on purpose.

    Might that be sitting one of your better players game after game after game when they are 100% healthy Mr. Commissioner?

  12. haaaaasoooooo - May 24, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    So who is their starting five going to be? Mcw at the 1, Dougie mcbuckets at the two, Jabari at the four or three?? Then who at the 3 or 5?

    • tcclark - May 25, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      If they stay put at the draft (which I highly doubt), it could easily end up being:

      MCW and Harris play good enough defense to help out on the perimeter for Parker, MCW is big enough to play 3’s if need be, and Noel is always playing the paint in case a player gets by Parker. Overall that’s a good young line-up with a lot of talent. It would be exciting.

      McDermott is in no way a 2 btw. He’s a 3/4 tweener.

  13. haaaaasoooooo - May 24, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    As in, Noel at the the 4 or 5? I don’t know if Jabari works at the three, but maybe. Not really built for it. Think he would get smoked by most 3s off the dribble.

  14. enigma2742 - May 25, 2014 at 12:06 AM


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