Former University of Kentucky star Nerlens Noel, who missed all of his first NBA season, will finally get back on the court in competitive play early next month when the Philadelphia 76ers play in the Orlando Summer League.
Noel told The Boston Globe that his left knee is completely healthy and that he has spent his time off the court preparing for his return.
“I’ve really focused on getting stronger, putting on weight and gaining muscle, and that’s what I did,” the 6-foot-11-inch Noel said. “Every aspect and skill point, I’ve been working on, too. My shot, I’ve progressed a lot, and I’m working on my technique. Every part of my game I’ve improved on.”
Noel, who will still be considered a rookie next season, told The Globe that missing more than a year has been a learning experience.
“You really look at things in a whole different light and that’s definitely how it’s been for me,” he said. “I feel like I’ve aged mentally in how I look at every aspect of life, just not taking any thing for granted. Basketball, I’ve learned a lot as well, just not being able to play, being on the bench watching guys like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah — guys like that, just really picking their games apart, seeing all the little things they do and trying to implement it into my game.”
Noel, projected to be a star on the defensive end of the floor said his offensive game has improved, too.
“I’m a lot stronger and more confident with the moves I make,” he told The Globe. “I’m just really feeling great. Obviously, it’s going to take some time in the game to be able to drive and get my wind and feel like I am in game shape.”