Ex-Cats

Coach wants Nerlens Noel to focus on ‘elite gifts,’ not jump shots

The Brooklyn Nets’ Thaddeus Young (30) watched as the Philadelphia 76ers’ Nerlens Noel blocked his shot — it was negated by a foul call — during the first half on Feb. 6, 2016, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 103-98.
The Brooklyn Nets’ Thaddeus Young (30) watched as the Philadelphia 76ers’ Nerlens Noel blocked his shot — it was negated by a foul call — during the first half on Feb. 6, 2016, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 103-98. AP

Where’s Noel?

That was one of the biggest questions surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers the past couple of months. Folks wanted to know where Nerlens Noel was at while several of teammates worked out at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Well, the Sixers center spent time this summer working out with Sixers head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright in the New England area. The 6-foot-11, 228-pounder worked out on the beach, in the weight room and did on-court drills with Wright.

There’s a solid chance that the Sixers will trade Noel or/and center Jahlil Okafor this season. But if he stays, Sixers Coach Brett Brown says Noel will be an asset for the team that also features center Joel Embiid.

However, Brown wants him to focus on running rim to rim, scoring around the basket and being a defensive stopper.

“Personally, I don’t care if he ever makes a jump shot for the rest of his life,” the coach said. “I mean that. That’s not how his bread is buttered.”

Brown said Noel is similar to former Sixer and Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo and Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo signed a four-year $72 million deal with the Orlando Magic this summer.

“Nerlens has got elite gifts,” Brown said. “He’s as athletic and quick off the floor and quick rim to rim as anyone that I’ve coached, as any big man in the league.”

Brown wants to tap into that.

“Do your job and we will help you,” he added. “The league will reward that. The 76ers will reward that. He will be rewarded for playing like that.”

The Everett, Mass. native averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.8 assists, and 1.5 blocks this past season. In 2014-15, Noel averaged 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.7 assists and 1.9 blocks en route to finishing third in the rookie of the year voting.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

  Comments