SI: Nerlens Noel Ranked 84 in Top 100 NBA Players
Sports Illustrated released their list of the Top 100 NBA players of 2017, and Nerlens Noel is the lone 76er to appear on the list.
After being ranked at No. 97 the previous season, he moved up 13 spots to No. 84 even though his name has been the subject of trade rumors all offseason. The reason for the trade rumors doesn't have anything to do with his play, but more the addition of Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, plus Jahlil Okafor - the Sixers have a long-jam at the center position.
SI’s Rob Mahoney saw Noel as one of the brightest defensive prospects in the league and a impact defender.
NBA history tells us that 20- and 21-year-olds are not meant to be impact defenders. Their spectacular plays are generally overwhelmed by their physical and mental shortcomings. It’s a testament to the singularity of Noel that he’s now made our list over the past two seasons in spite of that. So rare is his defensive profile that it begs exception; his steal rate in each of his first two seasons ranks among the best of all time for a big, and only truly elite company (Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson) matched his output in terms of blocks and steals. It was only with Noel on the floor that the Sixers, lacking as they were, came anywhere close to defensive respectability. To get all of this from a player still feeling his way through team defensive concepts is stunning. Noel isn’t in the Top 100 because he gets every nuance just right. He’s included—and ranked this favorably—because of all that he’s able to offer in spite of his mistakes.
The Kentucky product has been one of the top defenders during his first two NBA seasons. Noel missed his entire rookie season, recovering from ACL surgery, but has played in 142 games in two season, averaging 10.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
Despite only being just 22-years-old, he’s considered to be one of the veterans on the team, and is looked upon as the leader., making him a value piece on a very young Sixers team.