Sixers' Noel looks good in drills

Sixers rookie Nerlens Noel. (Charles Fox/Staff Photographer)
Sixers rookie Nerlens Noel. (Charles Fox/Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 08, 2014

It was obvious to see why the 76ers are excited about Nerlens Noel's future.

The rookie center put on a show Thursday at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine while participating in one-on-one drills with player-development coach Greg Foster. Noel was fluid going to the basket, and displayed quickness and a burst while making an array of dunks and hook shots. He didn't show any signs of the anterior cruciate ligament tear he suffered in his left knee last February during his lone season at Kentucky.

"Although it's just sort of shadowboxing, you can't help but see how quick he jumps, his athleticism, his length," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of the 6-foot-11, 228-pounder. "It is exciting to look out there and see what you project [him] to be."

Noel has yet to practice or play in a game as a Sixer. There's a thought that the franchise doesn't want him on the court and would be content if he missed the entire season. In October, Brown said Noel was not likely to play this season.

On Monday, the coach said the Sixers would decide on the 19-year-old's status later this month or in early March.

Brown said that Noel doesn't appear to be favoring his repaired knee.

The next step in his rehabilitation is doing five-on-zero drills.

"Make sharp cuts and do real things," Brown said. "Even the stuff you are seeing, it's slow. It's shadowboxing. It's not real. He's not feeling bodies. He's not making sharp cuts."

After the team medically clears him to do that, the next steps will be more intensive one-on-one drills followed by five-on-five scrimmaging.

Brown, however, has a message for fans who will be excited to hear about Noel's visible athleticism during the workout.

"You would be excited as I am to project out what could be in Nerlens Noel," the coach said. "Don't get tricked. There's a long ways to go.

"When it happens, it's anybody's guess right now."

Carter-Williams honor. Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams will team with Orlando Magic rookie Victor Oladipo in the Skills Challenge at NBA All-Star Saturday Night on Feb. 15 in New Orleans. The event features four teams of two players competing in a two-round timed relay course with dribbling, shooting, and passing stations. Carter-Williams will also play on Team Webber in the Rising Stars Challenge, showcasing the league's top rookies and second-year players on Feb. 14.

Sharpshooting rookie. Hollis Thompson is quietly having an impressive rookie season.

The reserve swingman ranks first among rookies in field-goal percentage (47.6) and fourth in three-point percentage (37.6). Thompson also is averaging 5.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 21.1 minutes.

Not bad for someone who went undrafted out of Georgetown a year ago and spent last season in the NBA Development League.

"I think Billy Lange has done a hell of a job working with him," Brown said of Thompson's working with one of the team's player-development coaches.

Brown tries to sell Thompson on being like former Sixers and San Antonio swingman Bruce Bowen.

"Make a corner three and go guard somebody," Brown said, "and there will be a place for you for a long time with me or someplace else."

Thompson has made 11 of 18 three-pointers over the last 10 games after shooting 9 of 35 in the 19 before that.


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