Can Nerlens Noel Improve Offensively This Year?

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Mar 30, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel (4) juggles the ball after missing on a dunk attempt against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports


We expect him to improve himself, but can he turn himself into a player that is able to be more balanced, and focused on offense just as much as he is focused on defense? Unfortunately, history tells us no, we can’t expect him to become a shooter.

As one of you kindly pointed out on Twitter, this has been a learning experience, as it’s the first time Noel has really had to do something other than play as a center. He’s accustomed to close to the hoop offense, and hasn’t been utilized much as a power forward, which is continually proving to need to be more stretched out.

Noel attempted zero three pointers with Philly last season, and even back to his days playing college basketball, he didn’t attempt a single three pointer. It’s clear range isn’t something that he has. He plays close to the hoop. Noel has a hesitation when he gets the ball anywhere past the free throw line, even when it’s a shot he should be able to make. This is alarming, for sure.

His preference to play smaller ball is fine, but he still needs to find a way to make that work to the Sixers offensive advantage. He can do this in plenty of ways, which he did last season in several instances.

For one, he must rebound on offense. He’s already sticking near the hoop, and known for turning one man’s trash into another two points for the Sixers. Second chance points can often be the difference in close games, meaning Noel’s ability to rebound and get physical become increasingly more important.

He already averaged 2.5 offensive rebounds per game last year. A good goal would be to try and get that up to three per game.

Physicality is also something that has to be utilized. Despite appearing as a smaller big man to some, he proved he can muscle himself inside the paint, even against some of the league’s biggest players. He dropped thirty in a matchup against the Los Anfgeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, and really showed Jordan that he could take him to town.

Backdoor plays are a speciality of Noel. He can often sneak in behind the defense and find his way to the hoop for a score. He’s got to continue this, and even improve it, adding in wrinkles to make it work better, because eventually, teams will catch on, figuring out just how to stop this signature play of Noel’s. How does he add wrinkles? Make himself a weapon from deeper ranges…

Next: Expanding Range