After being projected to go No. 1 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel made an impression on college basketball. By blocking shots, catching alley-ops and being a dominant inside force, it seemed Noel would be a lock at No. 1 until he tore his ACL 24 games into the season.
As a result of his injury, Noel dropped in the NBA draft to the No. 6 pick of the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans then traded the big man to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday, Pierre Jackson and a 2014 first-round pick. The Sixers were in dire need of an inside presence after getting burned by their trade with the Los Angeles Lakers last season that landed them Andrew Bynum. Bynum never saw the floor for Philly while collecting a fat check.
ACL injuries have been pretty rare when it comes to the NBA. It is an injury that is more associated with football and the NFL. Basketball players don’t really have a notable example, until Derrick Rose last season. The 6-foot-11 center was expected to return to the court around Christmas, but the Sixers have made the decision to shut him down for the entire 2013-14 season.
The Sixers are making the right decision when it comes to Nerlens and his ACL injury. The added time will allow him to not only get his knee up to full strength, but it will also allow him to work on his game. Noel needs to work on his offense badly. His lack of offense is his greatest flaw and only practice can improve it.
Noel is also a wiry-framed dude like Kevin Durant was his rookie season. He needs to take the time off to gain more muscle mass as well. It will be very challenging for him to handle centers like Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert and Greg Oden at only 227 pounds.
Athletes should model their ACL injury rehab after Rose. Taking extra time off allowed him to gain 15 pounds of muscle and regain, if not improve his explosiveness. It also allowed him to regain trust in his own knee — that is probably one the biggest hurdles for athletes with serious injuries.
After moving on from Bynum, its easy not to blame Philly for being cautious and protecting their 19-year old potential franchise player. From the looks of Rose’s comeback, it does not look like a bad idea. That’s of course if they don’t tank this season to try to get the 2014 projected No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Wiggins.