The 76ers are in a hideous spiral. They have lost 17 consecutive games and are facing the possibility that they may not win another game this season.
Sixers fans are staying optimistic for two reasons: The 2014 draft and the two rookies. Fans especially concerned with the progress of the two rookies. The one, Michael Carter-Williams, has maintained intensity all season, striving towards the Rookie of the Year Award. The other, Nerlens Noel, hasn’t even been through a full speed five-on-five practice.
He has been out the entire season rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered during his freshman season at Kentucky. Noel was drafted in 2013 No. 6 overall by the Hornets and then dealt to the Sixers in the Jrue Holiday deal.
Noel caught the attention of media Sunday night when he tweeted his pending return date, “4-4-14.”
Noel has not played this season after undergoing left knee surgery following his lone season at Kentucky. First year coach Brett Brown said in October that Noel was unlikely to play this season, but the rookie has his eyes set on a hometown debut. The Sixers face the Boston Celtics on April 4th.
Noel is apparently healthy and capable of playing but should he be allowed? That is a judgment call that only Brown can make. As of now, it doesn’t seem plausible.
“Just in general, he’s all in regards to the practices and the weighs,” Brown said. “He’s just come with boundless energy. And I really don’t want to go on record too much in regards to the tweet, because I really don’t know enough about it. I haven’t spoken to him about it. That’s that.”
The debate of whether or not Noel would hurt the tank is ridiculous. The Sixers are losing – period. It doesn’t matter if a superstar is added to the team. Nothing will prevent the Sixers from losing and that’s that.
As for the health and best interest of Noel, who can say? It’s obvious Noel is eager to make his debut as soon as possible, but he has to be ready, and only Brown can determine if he is or not. Because Noel’s surgery took place in March 2013, one would assume he is.
On Tuesday Noel played four-on-four at practice. Intensity was apparently high and Thaddeus Young was impressed.
“He is very athletic and you can see signs of what he can be,” Thaddeus Young said. “He is a great shot blocker and a guy who is going to bring a lot of energy into the game. That is the biggest thing — getting him back to 100 percent so he can give all his energy to the game. He is going to be able to dictate a lot of things that go on defensively.”
Noel did not speak to reporters after his workout. According to team policy, injured players are not obligated to speak to media members until they play five-on-five in practice.
He is just 19 years old and according to those around him, he is anxious to get his professional career started. Next time Brown is approached by Noel on the subject of his debut, Brown has to take a good look at him and decide whether or not he is ready. If he’s ready, he’s ready.
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