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Is Nerlens Noel best rookie at Summer League? Possibly.

Jul 15, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

LAS VEGAS — The box score says Nerlens Noel had four blocks Monday night against the Cavaliers.

That doesn’t do his game justice.

His length and leaping ability make him an intimidating force in the paint. The guys on the Sixers bench were counting the number of shots Noel altered and said it got into double digits before they lost track.

“When the guards start being a little more timid on their drives and they start shooting a lot more floaters then I know I’m the reason,” Noel said.

It wasn’t the only thing Noel did well in his Vegas debut. He is hard to keep off the glass. He plays with more physicality than you would expect — he’s thin but will push and not back down (he doesn’t have the base to push around the strongest in the NBA, but he’s not a lightweight either). He chipped in a dozen points.

Still, it was the defense that gets your attention — at one point he sent an Anthony Bennett shot flying with a “Whose you’re No. 1 pick now?” intent.

Call it the “Blake Griffin effect” if you want, but Noel looks like the best player in Las Vegas. He’s a guy Sixers fans — and Michael Carter Williams (his old AAU teammate) — are going to love. Even if there is still plenty of raw there.

“He’s active, he’s all over the place,” Sixers Summer League coach Chad Iske said. “He’s trying to do everything, he’s trying to do too much on both ends. The hard part is do you want to just settle him down or do you want him to play with that aggressiveness? I don’t want to give him too much and cloud him, and then he’s thinking instead of playing. I think we just have to get out there and find the happy balance between him being within our rules and him being himself.”

Noel had been talked about as a likely No. 1 pick in 2013 until he blew out his ACL. Noel fell and became the No. 6 pick of the New Orleans Pelicans but was traded to the Sixers on draft night in 2013. Coming off an ACL surgery, the Sixers sat him for an entire season.

“I was very anxious to get back, even at the end of last season I was itching to get back, I felt great,” Noel said.

“I think he’s so excited to be out there and running around, you see a couple times late he gets a couple cheap fouls because he just impatient to play. But we’re excited about it,” Iske added.

Noel gets his offensive points right now mostly through hustle, although he showed a couple post moves and he knocked down an 18-footer Monday.

But is real impact from Day 1 will be on defense. And shot blocking.

The Sixers are remaining patient — Noel is not playing every game. He played some in Orlando then missed the Sixers first two games in Las Vegas before playing. This is still the log game for Philly.

“We know it’s a whole another level when we get into the regular season, we’re just happy with where he’s at right now,” Iske said. “We know it’s not a sprint, we’re looking over the long haul with him.”

Over the long haul you can picture Noel with Joel Embiid forming a front line for a team with Michael Carter-Williams and maybe Dario Saric and you can see a very good team. One that is a beast defensively.

The Sixers and Noel are trying not to get ahead of themselves. Patience and development remain the watch words. But the Sixers appear to have the best player at Summer League on their team, and he’s just getting started.

  1. connorchew - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    Noel has lived up to his hype thus far, even if it’s just summer league. He has one of the few things that you can’t teach, heart. Wiggins and parker have looked like studs too

    • garlandchapko - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      Why is he called a rookie? he has had a year of developing with NBA trainers so of course he is going to be better than the actual rookies.

      • garlandchapko - Jul 15, 2014 at 9:00 AM

        in the NFL if a rookie misses an entire year, they don’t call him a rookie his sophomore season, so why does the NBA?

      • ranfan12 - Jul 15, 2014 at 9:02 AM

        they are usually called rookies until they complete their first full year i believe. i think the same was said for blake griffin when he had to sit his first season out too

      • bringin1234 - Jul 15, 2014 at 9:03 AM

        Blake Griffin won the rookie of the year and technically it was his second year in the league after he busted his knee

      • garlandchapko - Jul 15, 2014 at 9:03 AM

        so if he misses all of this year he would be a rookie again next season? that totally makes sense.

      • money2long - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:05 AM

        Wait wait. So we talkin bout practice ? Not the game, not the game ? We talking bout practice?
        Of course he’s a rookie. All he’s done is practice. He hasn’t played any nba games. You know, the thing that we measure all the nba greats by. What they do in real games. That is where your experience comes from. Not walking up and down and trotting and learning in practice. Nba experience comes from actual games. That is why he’s a rookie. Kobe would have been number 1 all time in scoring by now if we counted practice. Give me a break.

      • patsmiley - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        does that make Derrick Rose a rookie?

      • kclanton80 - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:57 AM

        ummmmm…… your a rookie until you actually face NBA Talent in a real season. Trial by fire!!! Which he still hasn’t done because most of these players wont even be on NBA Rosters. Training with “NBA Trainers” does not make any difference. Nba Trainers aren’t all that different from college trainers, they are both just helping you work on your skills(they don’t have a secret magic potion that instantly makes you better). Why is that so hard to understand and why do you care?

      • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 15, 2014 at 6:37 PM

        @garlandchapko So it doesn’t make sense to you that the first game a guy ever plays in he’s considered a rookie? You’re right; there’s no logic to that at all.

  2. rustyshackleford1 - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    rookie? dude already has stacks of NBA cash for taking over Andrew Bynum’s seat in Philly

  3. illogic87 - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    Calm down plz

  4. illogic87 - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Wiggins had a cool dunk so I think he is teh best

    • money2long - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      Reading this made me feel…dumb.

      • illogic87 - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:13 AM

        well it true…if u cant dunk then get out the way…k?

    • antistratfordian - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      He blocked the shhh out of Noel tho. And dunked on him.

  5. djstickypants - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    You fart some you lose some

  6. willkill4caffeine - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    SO happy to see Noel is back healthy and, at least initially, it doesn’t seem as if he’s lost any of that explosiveness and athleticism that made him a potential top overall pick. This kid can give us Sixers fans something to look forward to this season since Embiid and Saric won’t see the court. I should really buy my season tickets now, because in 3 years or so, watch out for this team.

    • money2long - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      If the collective bargaining agreement allows them to stay together. We all love the young teams with players scattered across the roster with potential. We all loved the thunder a few years ago but they lost one of those pieces. Let’s actually start to realize that some of these teams will not stay together.

  7. campcouch - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    I thought Doug McDermott was the best. Different blogger perhaps.

    • campcouch - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      Nope. Same blogger.

    • 76ersdoubletank - Jul 15, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      I thought he said McBuckets was the “star” of the Summer League, as in fan support.

  8. gogatorsjohn - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    Happy for Noel. I am biased but looking for Elfrid Payton to be a stud. Not saying he’ll win any awards this year but he will be good in future.

  9. simoneauchristopher5 - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    If he plays that well during the season, the Sixers will have improved big time. W/how bad the east is, Philly might even sneak into an 8 seed.

    • connorchew - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      You clearly under estimate the sixers FO’s initiative to tank again this year

      • simoneauchristopher5 - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        Yeah, I understand they are trying to lose, but eventually some of these guys are going to play. MCW has a year under his belt and Noel should have been the #1 pick. They’re going to improve even if they don’t want to.

      • courtjester1234 - Jul 15, 2014 at 4:42 PM

        You can’t decide when you become a contender… It just happens. It was in 07 when Pat Giullick said the Phillies would be contenders 3 years from then. If in anyway they start playing really well, which I highly doubt for this year, you worry wether the management has enough faith to try and be a buyer at trade time. Like I say I highly doubt they would play well enough for these decisions won’t need to be made. But it’s fun to see a team being molded into a good team. I always compair situations like this to the Atlanta Braves in the early 80’s. They were just coming into their own, playing the game right and slowly but surely the one run losses were becoming the one run wins. And as a Philly fan you’re not supposed to show appreciation for your compitition. So Sixers, learn to walk before you run. But I see good signs for us fans and it’s fun again

    • zinger92 - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:54 AM

      I’d say that’s very unlikely to begin with, also their first rounder pick is top-14 protected so it’s fair to say having a good season is the LAST thing they want to do, hence why they drafted Embiid and Saric and have done nothing in free agency.

      • simoneauchristopher5 - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        What are they going to do, bench MCW & Noel? That is the only way they will truly suck. Do you guys not remember how good Noel is? Short memories nowadays. Adding a defensive game changer is HUGE for any team. Philly is going to surprise people, trust me.

    • shanelsweet - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      Can’t you see that the NBA is a man’s league? They’ve got no chance at all to make the playoffs this year

  10. garlandchapko - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Why is he called a rookie? he has had a year of developing with NBA trainers so of course he is going to be better than the actual rookies.

    • money2long - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      Developing or rehabbing ?

  11. iloveopenbar - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    hinkie has done nothing but load up on long athletic players that hustle and play defense. with noel protecting the paint, the sixers will be a good defensive team as soon as this year.

    if any of these guys can score the ball, they might even threaten for a playoff spot in the east.

    adding embiid down the road takes the d to a whole nother level. hopefully, those guys can stay healthy.

    • money2long - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      And how many steals did MCW get in his first regular season game last year ?
      I’m with you, I like these defensive guys on the sixers.

      • iloveopenbar - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        i know i’m getting ahead of myself, but imagine noel and embiid together in their primes. noel would be free to cover a guy like durant AND have a rim protector behind him in embiid.

  12. bougin89 - Jul 15, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    His block on Anthony Bennett was pretty awesome. I love how active Noel is. Being a “hustle guy” is something hard to teach/coach, surprisingly. It’s more of a trait and he definitely has it.

  13. themagicfanguy - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    I still can’t get over NO trading this guy, imagine him and Davis as a frontcourt a few years down the road? Ridiculous length and athleticism. Either way he should compete with Payton and Randle for ROY.

    • money2long - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      Would’ve been nice for sure. Even though Davis n Noel didn’t play in college , the Kentucky connection would’ve been cool. But oh yea, the defense would’ve been a good thing as well. Lol

  14. coldwater32301 - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    I’m going to go ahead an submit my paperwork for the Noel fan club, before they call it “Band-Wagoning” lol… Special guy…Indeed…

    • iloveopenbar - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      i think rooting for the sixers at this stage is the very opposite of band wagoning. i am thinking of getting season tickets so i can watch this team get better.

  15. mungman69 - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Then why is Doug McDermitt a rookie? He played 4 years in college while most others only played one year there.

  16. antistratfordian - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Yeah, well he got owned twice by Wiggins.

  17. obijuan13 - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Is it just me or does Nerlens Noel look like Ricky Bell of New Edition/Bell Biv Devoe.

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