Noel ready for summer-league debut

Posted: July 03, 2014

Saturday's summer-league opener against the Magic in Orlando can't come soon enough for Nerlens Noel.

After 17 months as a spectator, the 76ers rookie center is eager to play in an organized game.

"I've been ready for a while," said Noel, who missed last season while recovering from knee surgery.

He did not envision such a long layoff when he was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the sixth overall draft pick last year after his freshman season at Kentucky. The Sixers acquired him and a 2014 first-round pick from the Pelicans in exchange for all-star point guard Jrue Holiday.

Noel's activity consisted of one-handed shooting drills with coach Brett Brown and assistant coach Greg Foster at the beginning of the season. He gradually built up to five-on-five scrimmages by season's end.

"My goals are to get established and make sure I've got my feel back," Noel said. "It might be a little crazy in the beginning, just with the adrenaline and everything.

"But once I really take a step back, I'll say I'm ready, and I have been doing this my whole life."

The 6-foot-11, 222-pounder looks to unveil the mid-range jump shot he established during his workouts with Brown and Foster. Noel also improved his foul shooting and regained the flexibility he had before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in February 2013.

"For the most part, he's been on track with his development plan, trying to get him in shape to try to play basketball again," Brown said.

"I look forward to letting everybody see the improvement of his shot. I saw all of his synergy at Kentucky, and I don't remember him shooting a 16-foot shot."

The 20-year-old's bread and butter still is on the defensive end. At Kentucky, he averaged 4.4 blocked shots per game. He had a school-record 12 blocks against Mississippi.

Noel has been altering and blocking shots during this summer's pickup games. Swingman Hollis Thompson admitted that one of his attempted dunks was blocked.

"He's moving well," said Thompson, a second-year swingman who also will participate in Orlando. "He's running all over the court, jumping everywhere, blocking everything."

Now Sixers fans will be able to see what Noel can do.

"There will be a lot of pressure," Noel said. "But then again, all I am trying to do is achieve my goals. I'm not playing for anybody else but myself, the Sixers, and the city of Philadelphia.

"I'm going to come out there and play as hard as I can and just make sure I ease back into it."

The Orlando summer league will run from Saturday through July 11. Noel also will play for the Sixers in the Las Vegas summer league from July 12 to 21.

Joining the Sixers in Orlando will be veteran Casper Ware, Ronald Roberts Jr. (St. Joseph's), Aaron Craft (Ohio State), Isaiah Sykes (Central Florida), Travis Bader (Oakland), Jerami Grant (Syracuse), JaKarr Sampson (St. John's), Talib Zanna (Pittsburgh), Ed Daniel (Giorgi Tesi Group Pistola), Jamelle Hagins (NBA Development League), and Pierre Jackson (Fenerbahce Ulker).

Targeting Bradley?

The Sixers reportedly are interested in free-agent shooting guard Avery Bradley, who played the last four seasons with the Boston Celtics. Yahoo Sports reported that the Sixers contacted him Tuesday at the start of the free-agency period. ESPN.com reported that Bradley wants to return to the Celtics.


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.inquirer.com/deepsixer

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