Noel working to get stronger

Nerlens Noel (4) drives around Houston Rockets' Akil Mitchell, left, during an NBA summer league basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (John Raoux/AP)

ORLANDO - Nerlens Noel is showing flashes of stardom, but he is nowhere near the player the 76ers expect him to become.

The center is averaging 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2.3 steals in the Orlando Pro Summer League. Displaying athleticism that is unique for his position, the 6-foot-11, 228-pounder is a terror on the open court.

But the 20-year-old Noel's conditioning needs to get better. He also needs to bulk up to provide a physical presence in the post.

"I just think that is going to be a long process," said assistant coach Lloyd Pierce, who coaches the Sixers in the summer league. "The one play [against the Nets on Wednesday], he got fouled and knocked about 20 feet back. I think you will see a lot of that with Nerlens as his body continues to develop."

Adding strength will be a must for Noel, even though he is quicker than most post players guarding him. If he gets stronger, he will have better balance and be able to hold off opponents and absorb contact.

Noel's subpar conditioning is not a surprise. He is playing in his first organized basketball games in 17 months after suffering a knee injury in his lone season at Kentucky.


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Playing in his second game in consecutive nights Wednesday, Noel was noticeably tired early on. After he got his second wind, he finished with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots.

"Yeah, I definitely felt [tired]," Noel said. "It's definitely conditioning. It's natural to feel that way. I thought I transitioned well and definitely fought through it."

Noel expects to be stronger and in better shape by the start of the regular season. He also is trying to perfect his post moves.

"It will come as my mind slows down and the mental aspect comes into play," Noel said. "You know, just the feel for the game. I'm finding my teammates pretty well on screens, pick-and-rolls. It's all fluid."

His best performance has come at the line, where he has made 15 of 20 free throws. Noel was a 54 percent shooter at Kentucky. He also has made 13 of 25 field-goal attempts.

"They all feel good," he said of his missed jump shots. "You know, back rim. . . . . Once I knock one down, I think it will take my game to another level."

The Sixers (3-1) will face the Memphis Grizzlies in Friday's league finale.


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