As the likely NBA Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams’ act will be a tough one for next season’s Sixers rookies to follow.
Carter-Williams came to the Sixers with relatively low expectations, a luxury that whoever the Sixers land in the lottery won’t enjoy. Considering the hype of the draft class, and the label of "Sixers savior" already being thrown around, the Sixers’ rookie(s) next season will feel some pressure to perform.
Although we do not know who the Sixers will land in the lottery, we do know of one player who will be making his NBA debut with the Sixers next season: Nerlens Noel.
Noel, who was selected sixth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, missed the entire 2013-14 season due to injury issues, and thus will be considered a rookie during the upcoming 2014-15 season.
Noel, who was traded to the Sixers on draft day for the popular and productive - albeit not always efficient - Jrue Holiday, is one player that will be under pressure to perform.
Holiday, who had gained popularity coming off of his first all-star selection, was a known production piece. Noel, on the other hand, remains an unknown, especially after sitting an entire season. After having nothing to show for trading another all star in Andre Iguodala the year before, Sixers fans want to see production, proving that Holiday wasn’t just handed away, a la Iguodala.
Noel, who spent his entire sidelined season bulking up and restructuring his shot, is certainly eager for some action, and a chance to show Sixer fans what he can do.
“I haven’t played a competitive game in over a year,” Noel told the Intelligencer’s Tom Moore during Sixers breakup day last Thursday. “I’m definitely itching to get back out and get the feeling of the game back and be out there balling.”
When Noel finally does make his return to the hardwood, he hopes that his former AAU teammate Michael Carter-Williams, and the success that MC-W had with the Sixers this season, will ease his transition, and help him get acclimated with the NBA game and the league at large.
“I think Michael [Carter-Williams] definitely will be able to help me as I come back,” Noel stated. "Just to show me a couple of the little things that you really need to be on the court to experience.”
The likely Rookie of the Year agreed with the assessment.
“I think it takes some of the pressure off of him,” Carter-Williams stated, referring to success he experienced this season.
“He’s coming in and is going to play his part. A big part of his game is going to be off his teammates, especially off me,” Carter-Williams continued. “I’m definitely going to do everything I can to help him out. As he keeps developing his game, I can help him out along the way.”
Carter-Williams for one, is not concerned about the pressure Noel will face, or how he will handle. It.
“He’s not going to have too much pressure. He’s going to go in there, play defense, rebound, score the ball, and do the things he needs to do. He’ll be great.”
It’s nice for Noel to have the confidence and support of the Sixers. The center said that he plans to play a lot of pickup ball this offseason, in addition to summer league play, and to continue to add some size.
“I’m going to continue to work out and eat as much as I can.”
Hopefully Noel has more success with this approach than Kwame Brown did.
In all actuality, it will be extremely exciting for the Sixers to get the explosive Noel out on the court, and to see exactly how he can contribute to the future of the franchise. Noel has the potential to develop into a special player, and coupling him with Carter-Williams, and two looming lottery picks creates a promising picture for the Sixers.