Speaking before the Sixers took the court against the Cleveland Cavaliers, head coach Brett Brown indicated that rookie Nerlens Noel will likely miss the entire 2013-2014 season. When asked about Noel’s rehab, Brown described it as “a slow process” and went on to say that although there is no plan in place to sit Noel for the entire season, it is the more likely scenario than seeing him suit up for the Sixers this year.
Nerlens Noel tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament, more commonly known as the ACL, on an attempt to block a shot in a game in early February. The All American Freshman underwent surgery and has been rehabbing to rebuild strength in his knee since then.
Prior to the injury, Noel was putting up monster numbers for Kentucky. Offensively, Noel averaged 10.5 PPG and shot 59% from the field, despite the lack of a real offensive game in the post. Noel’s true value came on the defensive end of the court for John Callipari and his program. Using his massive wingspan and athleticism, Nerlens Noel averaged 4.5 blocks per game and 9.5 rebounds.
At the time of his injury, Noel was considered the consensus first overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft. The injury seriously hurt his draft stock as he was unable to work out for teams and doctors were unsure of when he would return to the court at full strength. On draft night, Noel would slide down on the draft board and was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans with the sixth pick.
The Sixers acquired Noel in a draft night trade with New Orleans that sent All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for the draft rights to Noel and a protected first round pick in the loaded 2014 NBA draft.
Soon after the trade, reports surfaced that Noel’s rehab had gone smoothly and a return to the court around Christmas had been the early estimate for the rookie. Brown refused to officially declare Noel lost for the season to continue his rehab, but from the sound of his comments it is only a matter of time until the team does make it official. Sitting Noel for the season is a smart move for the Sixers, who are building for the future.
ACL injuries can be very tricky, and if the rehabilitation process is rushed, the injury could be aggravated due to the severity of the ACL tear. Just last season we saw Derrick Rose miss the entire season as a result of his ACL tear that he suffered in March of 2012 in the playoffs against the Sixers. Rose has reportedly come back stronger and quicker than ever for the Bulls, so there is reason for optimism Sixers fans.
Noel can now take his time with his rehab rather than rush back to the court and hurt himself again. In the meantime, this could be a blessing in disguise for the rookie. Once he gains more strength in his surgically repaired knee, Noel can take the opportunity to work on his offensive game for the Sixers and be more prepared to step into his role for the team the in 2014-2015 season.
In the meantime, the rehab process of Nerlens Noel will be a storyline to follow during the upcoming season. Stay tuned for more updates Sixers fans.