The Sixers and their fans obviously enjoyed the 3-0 beginning to the 82-game season, despite that coming to a screeching halt Monday night with a 20-point loss to Golden State -- a game the Sixers trailed in by as many as 39 points.
There were no long faces when the team gathered for Tuesday’s practice. Brett Brown’s team simply went back to work, addressing its shortcomings and continuing the development of its young players.
“The peaks and valleys of the NBA are dangerous,” Brown said. “We love you, we don’t. We love you, we don’t. We are good, we’re really terrible. And you have to be so careful and none of it is true.
“You are never as good as you thought you were and you are not as bad as you think you are. I hope I walk an even line throughout this year knowing the realities of our team.”
Off in the corner of the Sixers’ practice facility stood another reminder of reality in Nerlens Noel. The rookie is still a ways from participating in up-and-down basketball action and he’s currently in “project” mode.
During this mode, the Sixers’ coaching staff has decided to take rebuild Noel's jump shot.
“I think we have the perfect environment to do it because we have a whole year,” Brown said. “We have taken him back to doing a lot of one-handed shooting. I can sense that he is shooting with two hands behind my back. But when he does that, the off hand comes in and elbows start flying. But when he does just one hand, he gets his elbow under it and it is a good looking shot.”
In his one season at Kentucky, Noel shot 59 percent from the floor but much of his scoring was around the rim. The goal is to have him become a fundamentally-sound shooter from 15 feet and in.
“It is his future,” Brown said of Noel investing time in his shooting technique. “The first place you start is the free throw line because now he is going to turn and face. He really likes Kevin Garnett, a turn-and-face, jump-shooting big, and he aspires to be one of them even though he is a post player initially. I think the free throw is what carries over to the other parts of the game. And I hope we can get that right.”
Interestingly enough, Noel shot just 53 percent from the foul line in college. It behooves both Noel and the organization to help the 6-foot-10 forward improve in that category.
Dwight Howard has always struggled at the charity stripe. This season, he’s 18 of 36 (50 percent) at the line. And Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan has made just 11 of 25 (44 percent) free throws.
A big man who is not a liability being fouled in the guts of a close game is a tremendous lift for a team.
Noel by no means is the only player on Brown’s roster that needs a jump-shot makeover -- Noel may just need it a little more.
“I think everyone is tweakable,”Brown said. “I think Nerlens is a total rebuild. You would do something with [Evan Turner’s] footwork and we have done that. You would do things with different release points. You would exaggerate the follow through with Tony Wroten’s shot because everything is a hot stove.
“Everything is tweakable -- Nerlens, though, is a total rebuild.”