Jan 15, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) practices before the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Tennessee 75-65. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Statistics Prove Nerlens Noel will Win Rookie of the Year

With all the hype surrounding the 2014 rookie class, a lot of people are forgetting that 76ers big man Nerlens Noel is eligible to win the 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year award. Even though Nerlens was drafted in 2013, he didn’t appear in any games last season, because of his recovery from a torn ACL.

Kevin Ferrigan (@nbacouchside) of Hoop365.com, Vice.com/sports and NylonCalcus.com has put together a rookie model for xRAPM values for offense and defense. xRAPM is what Real Plus-Minus used to be called before ESPN bought it, with some marginal differences. As explained to me through e-mail, Ferrigan used rookie classes from 2002-12 to get coefficients for the statistics. He had the following to say about Nerlens Noel via e-mail:

There are a couple of interesting things that came out of running the regression, which was that assists helped predict defense, as did offensive rebounds. Steals and blocks are most important, though, which is why Nerlens looks like such a monster. That and his height. The values are predictions of per-100 possession impact on +/-.

Nerlens is estimated to be roughly a +1.7 on D and a -1.4 on O, for a total of +.3. Any positive predicted rookie value is good, because rookies are generally not positive +/- contributors, especially on D. So there ya go.

Basically, from Ferrigan’s model, Nerlens Noel is projecting to have the best opportunity to win Rookie of the Year. Nerlens Noel has a xRAPM of +.3 when combining his offense (-1.4) and defense (+1.7). Rookies don’t typically have positive +/- contributions, which makes Nerlens Noel so special. As you can tell from the list, Nerlens is the only rookie that has a positive +/- impact.

These are all projections, of course, and the games still have to be played. However, who doesn’t like more reasons why Nerlens Noel will win Rookie of the Year?

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