Nerlens Noel is having a hell of a season, and is considered one of the frontrunners for Rookie of the Year. He’s averaging 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.8 steals per game and even though he’s sitting out right now with an ankle sprain, he’s very, very close to averaging 2 blocks and 1.5 steals per game, a rookie record set by David Robinson in 1989-1990 and a mark met only by fellow Cat Anthony Davis this year.
There are two great articles about Nerlens making the rounds today. Let’s start with NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper, who puts Nerlens atop his final Rookie of the Year rankings:
1. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers (Last week: 1)
A very quiet end to the season — missing the last two-plus games and possibly the finale because of a sprained ankle — does nothing to temper the success story. Going from sitting out all 2013-14 while recovering from surgery on the left knee to zero games out because of the knee, and averaging 30.8 minutes, would have been accomplishment enough. But Noel, though laboring on offense, also played at a very high level on defense. He did so sometimes at power forward and sometimes as an undersized center (230 pounds) and mostly as a 20-year-old, before having another birthday last Friday. Now imagine Noel when he has more muscle and more experience.
The second piece comes from Bleacher Report, who sat down with Noel last week in Philly. Noel opened up to Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling about his journey since entering the league, which included revamping his jump shot:
Even before my rookie season, starting in 2013, I worked closely with Brett to completely rebuild my shot. He didn’t even want me to bring my guide hand over until January of last season. The early focus was one-handed shots with a tight elbow setup just to keep the technique. Before then, I would shoot with a release from the side of my head and the ball would rotate sideways. In fact, at Kentucky, I hadn’t taken a jump shot the whole year. But I was able to finish at nearly 61 percent from the free-throw line this season, which was the team’s goal for me.
Nerlens also mentions his upcoming trip to the Philippines, which Sam Malone discussed on the radio show this morning. If we don’t get video of the Headband and the Flat Top’s adventures, I will riot.