PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The NBA lottery is on Tuesday night and many Sixers fans are hoping the franchise lands two top-ten picks. Last year, the Sixers drafted the NBA rookie of the year, Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th pick in the draft. Five picks before that, some people forget the Sixers drafted a 6’11” center, Nerlens Noel, who was forced to miss his entire rookie season recovering from an ACL injury.
Sixers CEO, Scott O’Neil, said Thursday on CSN’s Philly Sports Talk that he doesn’t think fans should expect the Sixers to make the playoffs in 2014-15. Noel, despite not stepping on the court yet as a Sixer, told BleacherReport.com his goal is to get the Sixers back to the playoffs—not only for himself, but for Philadelphia as well.
“It would mean a lot for me to be a part of something in Philadelphia to take them back to the promised land and get right back to the playoffs along with great players around me,” Noel told Bleacher Report. “I want to give Philly a reason to be happy because during the Allen Iverson days, it was one of the best cities to be in. That’s what I’m really focused on—working my butt off to get to the playoffs.”
As for the ACL injury, Noel said it is totally behind him now and he’s “100 percent past it.”
While rehabbing, Noel has worked very closely with Sixers head coach Brett Brown increasing his weight, honing his offensive skills, and improving his jump shot. Noel watched a ton of Sixers games from the bench this past season, something that was very frustrating for him. He couldn’t help but envision running up and down the court with Carter-Williams, his childhood friend and former AAU teammate.
Brown not only worked very closely with Noel on the court, but also off the court, showing Noel clips of players talking to the media including pieces of Kevin Durant’s heartfelt MVP acceptance speech. Brown would tell Noel how good he would look in this offense while asking Noel basketball questions during games.
On Tuesday night during the 2014 NBA draft lottery, the Sixers hope the ping-pong balls fall their way. That would set up a monumental opportunity to make a major leap in building a franchise with sustained success, something Philadelphia is yearning for. With young players like Noel and Carter-Williams already in place, a passionate head coach in Brown, and a ton of cap space and draft picks for general manager Sam Hinkie to work with, the Sixers’ future looks bright.
You can and should read the entire piece on Nerlens Noel here.