Dr. James Andrews clears Sixers' Noel for basketball activities
The rookie center has been working with Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown during shootaround before games, and he was even seen playing some one-on-one with assistant coach and former NBA big man Greg Foster. With Dr. Andrews' clearance, Noel can now ramp up his workouts and drills. Granted, one source said that the team has yet to clear Noel, but Dr. Andrews is widely considered the best in the business, so the team's clearance should come in the very near future.
Earlier in the season, Brown was quoted as saying that "everybody doubts [Noel] is going to play this year," but Dr. Andrews said that, barring setbacks, Noel should be ready to take the court in 4-6 weeks. That timetable would see him make his NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break.
When Noel does return, he will surely be on a very strict minutes limit, as there is no reason for the 76ers - who have the third-worst record in the NBA - to push their promising building block too hard. Even so, Noel should help the 76ers in a number of areas that they struggle in. His offensive game is extremely raw and won't help improve the team's 12th-ranked offense, but he was a sensational defender in college and should help the defense, which gives up the most points in the NBA. He should also drastically improve the team's shot blocking, which ranks 24th.
Noel was the country's No. 1 recruit coming out of high school, and he was exciting to watch during his one, injury-shortened season at the University of Kentucky, so it will certainly be interesting to see what he is able to do when he finally takes the court for an NBA team.