Philadelphia 76ers rookie Nerlens Noel is “very excited” to finally make his professional debut this autumn.
Noel, who was taken sixth overall out of Kentucky in 2013, hasn’t played competitively since tearing the ACL in his left knee 17 months ago.
“I’m very excited,” said Noel, 20, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. “I know there will be a lot of eyes on me, but I’m definitely coming in with a team mentality and to get better. I haven’t played in a year and a half, but I’m staying focused and being patient with the process of coming back to organized games.”
Despite running and taking layups for in excess of 365 days, Noel was never going to be activated for the 2013-14 campaign.
Many Philadelphians are still seething at the terrible acquisition of Andrew Bynum and indefinitely shelving the former Wildcat wasn’t a popular choice.
However, recalling the plights of past busts Sam Bowie and Greg Oden, 76ers fans needed to show “Brotherly Love” and let Noel mend.
Philadelphia finished 19-63 and it would have been nonsensical for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s brother to take the court last season.
Plus, away from the hardwood, Noel’s hopefully become a better ballplayer by gaining bulk and refining his interior game.
Quick, fast, athletic and an amazing leaper and finisher around the rim, the 6-foot-11, 206-pound Noel has the potential to mature into one of the league’s premier big men within a few years.
Michael Carter-Williams flourished as a 76er and the organization selected Kansas prospect Joel Embiid with this summer’s third pick.
The 20-year-old Embiid, who was named the 2014 All-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, broke his foot and underwent the knife to repair the wound shortly before the draft.
Much to the chagrin of Philadelphians, the 7-foot, 250-pound Embiid may be sidelined for all upcoming 82 contests.
However, if ever healthy in unison, Noel, Embiid and the 22-year-old Carter-Williams will make for an intriguing trio.
With Carter-Williams handling the ball, Embiid and Noel could prove menacing as skyscrapers in the paint.
Although the team will remain pathetic in the interim, Philadelphia 76ers supporters have reasons to be “very excited” for the future.by