Jul 23, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; First round draft pick center Nerlens Noel addresses the media as 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie listens during a press conference at PCOM. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Summer Sixers Spotlight: Nerlens Noel

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OPSL Averages from Nerlens Noel in 3 Games Played: 13.7 PPG, .520 FG%, 5.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, 2.3 SPG, 3.0 BPG

Ah. Finally, a glimpse of Nerlens Noel playing in an NBA atmosphere. After 18 months of waiting for 100 percent fitness from a grueling ACL rehabilitation, Noel got his first NBA game experience in the Orlando Summer League. Even with it being an exhibition, I think I speak for 76ers fans everywhere when I say it was worth the wait to see Noel strap ‘em up.

The 6-foot-11 center was fantastic in his 76ers Summer League debut. Noel tallied 19 points, two rebounds, four steals and a block in 26 minutes played. Noel was also perfect from the free throw line (7-7), a serious improvement from his year at Kentucky. Noel’s four steals were evidence of his crazy quick hands, a rare attribute of someone Noel’s size.

Noel’s rebounding line was rather low in his debut and this seems to be directly correlated with his shot-blocking mentality. While blocked shots are valuable, attempting them often puts you in bad rebounding position. Noel did lead the summer league in blocks, but his lack of rebounding seems to be a consequence of how often he attempts to block shots.

Here’s what he had to say about his performance after the 83-77 loss to the Magic:

“No mental blocks,” Noel said. “It’s been 18 months out. I haven’t been thinking about the knee for many months now. So I’m definitely going to continue to get it strong, as strong as possible and continue working. It’s very validating. It’s been 18 months since I played an organized game, and I felt great today. I’m real happy, but I can’t get too happy because it’s a long road ahead of me.” (Via ESPN.com)

In Nerlens Noel’s second outing, he impressed yet again on the defensive end — anchoring the 76ers D in the 92-71 victory over Houston. Noel finished with eight points, six rebounds, two steals and three blocks in 24 minutes. He seemed to struggle a bit in this one with his conditioning which is completely understandable for a guy who hasn’t played competitively in a year and a half. Noel’s athleticism was on display again in this one, however. He has such rare speed, quickness and agility for someone of his size. So unique.

Noel’s final game against Brooklyn was his best game. He dropped 14 points, corralled 9 rebounds and swatted 5 shots in the 92-86 victory against the Nets. We saw more of the same from Noel in this one, altering and blocking shots all over the court — wreaking havoc and causing problems for the opposition. We also saw some good passing from Noel and better decisions on the offensive end than in the previous two games. If this summer league is any indication of what Noel will bring to the sixers this season, then he will be a rookie of the year candidate for sure.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZVw8X2tlLw?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

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