It’s still not likely that Nerlens Noel will play this season but the 76ers rookie center has been working more with the team as he continues to recover from left ACL surgery that he underwent March 12, 2013.
On Tuesday Noel was involved in some half-court three-on-three and four-on-four games. He hasn’t talked to the media and the Sixers say he isn’t obligated until going through five-on-five full court workouts.
Forward Thaddeus Young was more than willing to give an update on Noel’s progress.
“He is very athletic,” Young said. “You see signs of what he can be.”
The 6-foot-11, 228-pound Noel is expected to be a defensive force.
“He is definitely a great shot blocker and a guy who will bring a lot of energy to the game,” Young said. “That is the biggest part of getting him back to 100 percent, seeing all this energy and he can be a focal point in the game and big part of what goes on defensively.”
And the players aren’t giving Noel a free pass.
“I am definitely not taking it easy on him,” Young said laughing.
Young feels that Noel is a person who can change a game defensively, but he said there has also been some development on offense.
“He is more skilled than I thought as far as having a few post moves and he is able to make a few plays,” Young said.
What has really impressed Young is what a quick leaper Noel is.
“He is one of the quickest guys I have seen off his feet,” Young said.
Many skeptics feel that Noel will not be able to take the pounding at center, but Young disagrees. Like Noel, Young is considered undersized at his position, power forward.
“That’s like me and fours (power forwards),” Young said. “I am able to beat a lot of fours up and down the court and he will be fine.”
Noel turns 20 on April 10 and Young says he will have plenty of time to fill out.
“He is 19-years-old and guys develop,” said Young, who is 25. “I came into this league 19-years-old and I am completely different from what I was then.”
And he expects the same from Noel.