Nerlens Noel turns heads in Sixers' workout

Nerlens Noel turns heads in Sixers' workout
March 11, 2014, 3:00 pm
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Nerlens Noel impressed during his four-on-four workout with the Sixers on Tuesday afternoon. (USA Today Images)

Nerlens Noel continues to make headlines.

Whether it is for his ambiguous tweeting or for taking encouraging steps in practice that bring him closer to being the player the Sixers hoped he would be when they traded Jrue Holiday for him and a first-round pick last June.

Tuesday was a headline day because Noel played four-on-four at Sixers' practice. The rookie went hard and his teammates did the same right back at him.

"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.

Noel is just 19 years old and according to those around him, he is anxious to get his pro career underway. Whether that happens this season remains unclear.

Young, in the meantime, used his seven years of NBA experience to counter Noel’s raw skills when going head to head.

"I definitely don’t take it easy on him,” Young said. “We did some drills where I knew he was going to jump for all the pump fakes. He is too antsy right now so I gave him 30 pump fakes.

"He is more skilled than I thought as far as showing a few post moves. Right now it is about him continuing to work hard toward getting back on the court."

Sixers coach Brett Brown agreed with Young's assessment.

“We got a competitor," Brown said. “We can say he is 19 years old and he weighs this and he has to work on that, but how he ticks and sees things from a competitive side is beyond impressive.

"Don’t think for a moment him sitting on the sideline watching his teammates lose this year, at times the way we have lost, doesn’t trickle in in a good way as far as him seeing exactly what he doesn’t want."

In other words, Noel, like Brown, wants to be a part of a winner.

"This has been a good eye-opening experience for Nerlens where he knows he can help make a difference and help get us back on track," Brown said.

And for those who have concerns Noel will be overpowered be bigger stronger centers around the league, Young uses himself as an example of how that table can be turned.

"It is like me with fours -- I am able to beat a lot of fours up and down the court," Young explained. "I think he will be fine. His body will develop over the course of time."

But right now Young says in addition to Noel’s quickness end to end, he can rely on a vertical quickness that few have.

"He is one of the quickest guys I have seen off his feet," Young said. "One time we were going at each other and he altered my shot and I got the rebound and he was already off his feet again. He can probably jump three or four times before somebody jumps twice."

The Sixers will try to snap their 17-game losing streak Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center when they play the Sacramento Kings.