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Nerlens Noel Goes Off For 30 Points And 14 Rebounds Against The Clippers

Nerlens Noel is one of the most disruptive rookie defenders of all-time, and he just dropped 30 points on arguably the league’s most talented frontcourt. Still don’t think the future is bright for the Philadelphia 76ers?

We’ve been high on Noel since last July, when he showed the athleticism and knack normally reserved for the league’s elite defenders only. A couple months later and before he played his first official NBA game, we forecasted that the 6-11 rookie would one day garner Defensive Player of the Year consideration.

Nothing Noel has done in his debut campaign has changed our mind with regard to his path on that end of the floor, of course. But his rapidly developing offensive game has made us reconsider the potential trajectory of his career. Could the 20 year-old be more than a souped-up version of Tyson Chandler? Friday night’s performance against DeAndre Jordan and the Los Angeles Clippers served as the culmination of recent evidence suggesting a strong affirmative.

We’re dubious that Noel will become a back-to-basket hub – he lacks the base necessary to establish great post position, and doesn’t quite possess the natural comfort of great block scorers. Where the Kentucky product could make hay throughout his career, though, is as a face-up man from the pinch post.

He’s simply too quick for most bigs off the dribble, and is already capable of finishing with either hand around the basket. What most separates Noel from other post players who can put the ball on the floor, though, is his body control.

These and-1 takes versus Los Angeles show off those traits with aplomb:

Now just imagine if Noel can develop a reliable mid-range game, something of which he’s shown flashes of late. He’ll be far more than just a rim-runner and pick-and-roll beast in that case, but a viable playmaking hub, too.

It’s too late for the Sixers first-year prize to steal Rookie of the Year from Andrew Wiggins, but Noel is trying his damndest. He’s averaging 16.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 2.4 blocks per game on 57.5 percent shooting over Philly last nine outings, numbers that scream potential All-Star.

And while we’re not fully confident Noel will get there, that suddenly seems a more likely scenario than otherwise. Not bad for a player who many assumed would only play one side of the ball.

[Video via FreeDawkins]

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