After a year-long recovery from an ACL tear that cut short his collegiate career, Nerlens Noel is ready to make his NBA debut at the start of the season for the Sixers. Noel’s play was promising throughout the summer, and he showed glimpses of the potential defensive dynamo he could be down the line.
Promising play aside, the road to recovery was a trying time for Noel, especially having to stay sidelined and being unable to play the game he loves for an 18-month period. Luckily for Noel however, his recovery process was mollified by the helping hands of others.
While Noel credits his teammates for being extremely supportive throughout his sidelined season, the individual person he lists as the biggest helper throughout his recovery process is somewhat of a surprise.
“Rajon Rondo was definitely the biggest helper throughout this whole process,” Noel stated in a recent interview with CBS Sports.
“He actually gave me his phone number and told me I could hit him up whenever about it. Being from Boston, watching him growing up, and he went through it and he came back as strong as possible, actually before me, so it gave me a lot of confidence, having his good faith.”
Apparently Kentucky Wildcats stick together, despite an on court Sixers-Celtics rivalry.
Noel wasn’t done praising the point guard however.
“Being able to interact with [Rajon] Rondo and get good advice from him – because he’s more of a veteran point guard now in the league, gone through so much with the Big 3, he’s a world champion, he’s a player who’s very mature in this league now – it was crazy. I took a lot from him.”
Hopefully Noel didn’t take any shooting tips from Rondo.
In all seriousness though, Rondo does have a pile of experience, and it couldn’t hurt Noel to soak up some of his knowledge, especially if Noel figures to be a key piece to a championship squad, as Rondo was.
As far as doubters of his ability to successfully complete the comeback and have an immediate impact for the Sixers this season, Noel isn’t concerned.
“There’s been a lot of doubters,” he told CBS. “I’ve just really been working as hard as I can to be able to prove myself as a younger player in this league that can contribute sooner than later. I’m just going to go into this season with the mindset of contributing to my team and establishing myself.”