We interrupt the steady flow of Florida Week news with a quick update from the (former) land of David Stern. The Philadephia Equirer ran an in-depth story on our boy Nerlens Noel this morning, and its ripe with some juicy intel on the latest happenings of the the flat top feller.
A lot of it is stuff we’ve heard before and have seen first hand — he’s got the heart of a lion, he spends most of his free time visiting with the less fortunate, his mother is his rock, etc — but there’s also a few things worth passing along.
The first is that the Sixers front office and coaching staff have no intention of rushing Nerlens’ rehab process. While most have assumed mid-December was the latest he’d be ready to get back on that court, it looks as if that prognosis might be a bit premature:
The Sixers are in no rush to get him on the court. Though Noel is ahead of schedule in his weight-room workouts, [physical therapist Kevin] Wilk doubts he will be ready to play before December.
“Right now, the stuff we are doing is not necessarily on the court,” Wilk said. “He’s got to get used to the court, cutting on the court. Used to playing defense one-on-one. Things of that nature. So it’s probably going to get pushed a little further back, even though he looks like he’s ready.”
For now, his regimen includes strengthening exercises designed to build bulk, agility, and proprioception exercises, and non-muscular training. So far, Noel has bulked up to around 221 pounds from a listed 206 at May’s NBA predraft combine.
While some might point to the Sixers holding Nerlens back as evidence that their plan this year is to tank for another lottery pick, I like to think they’re just being patient with their future franchise center. I mean, they’re totally tanking. That’s obvious. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not also good for Nerlens. Take all the time you need, big guy.
And, finally, it’s probably been a while since you lost any sleep over the ‘what ifs’ of last year, so this quote from Cal should take care of that. Ya know, in case you forgot what type of player Nerlens was:
Kentucky coach John Calipari is confident that his former standout will become a fan favorite once he gets on the court. Calipari, who was a Sixers assistant coach under Larry Brown, believes Noel was the best player in the draft, despite being selected sixth by the New Orleans Pelicans and being traded to the Sixers.
“Something inside of him when the game gets hairy comes out,” he said. “It’s that it factor those great players have. That’s what I’m telling everybody. I know he hurt his leg, I know. But of all those players in that draft, he was one that had that it.”
Calipari pointed to Noel’s five blocked shots in the last four minutes against Mississippi last season. The coach added that his former player always produced when the game was in the balance, whether it was a steal, a block, a dive on the floor, or a basket. That’s why Calipari believes Philadelphians will enjoy Noel.
“They demand great effort,” he said. “They demand that we fight and battle and play that way every day. That’s giving us the best you have. And they will get that.”