OKC Thunder is the perfect rehab centre for Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel OKC Thunder Player Preview (Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nerlens Noel OKC Thunder Player Preview (Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
SACRAMENTO, CA – APRIL 4: And, Nerlens Noel #3 of the Dallas Mavericks looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings. On April 4, 2017 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.  (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /


Nerlens Noel is a sneaky rebounder. Because of his wiry frame, lack of game time and time spent at the four, not many fans realize both his offensive and defensive rebounding percentages rank comfortably in the top 15 league-wide.


When it comes to pure hops and reach, Noel is as well-equipped as any big men to inhale rebounds. Noel’s learning curve here will come from being more consistent with his box outs. This will be crucial for the Thunder – despite their reputation, the Thunder were painfully sloppy with their defensive rebounding at times.

Putting the ball on the floor:

If Noel wants the freedom to do more with the ball, then he’s at the right place.


Draymond Green has become the league’s poster boy for big men who unlock defenses with the ability to receive the ball 15 feet out, and be a threat to attack the rim or make passes. Last season, the Thunder’s frontcourt suffered because no one could consistently do both.

Jerami Grant gave OKC a sample of what it’s like to have such a threat with the second unit. No doubt, Noel will see small dosages of opportunity to do the same.

Extending his range:

This clip speaks for itself.


Some Dallas fans tried hyping up the prospect of Noel developing a jumper. I’m not particularly hopeful about that. But the idea of Noel picking up a neat floater will surely remind Thunder fans of a certain Kiwi on the roster. And the numbers are promising. From 10-16 feet, Noel shot 33.3 percent. For a big man, that’s just enough to keep defenses from collapsing onto Felton and Westbrook.

More importantly, this foul-line floater game is a carbon copy of Steven Adams’ offensive arsenal. And that’s the beauty of this fit. As a one-year rental, Noel isn’t coming into the team and demanding a new page on the playbook. He’s essentially looking at the same path of development Adams was on three years ago.

Easy playbook:

And, for the areas of play that aren’t yet in his arsenal, well, they should feature highly on his course syllabus. By now, Noel should be clear his role in the league is to be a premier coarse-laborer like Adams. Setting hard screens, learning to hang back and marshal the defense, making reads coming out of the pick-and-rolls.

With OKC, Noel has the perfect mentor for himself, without the pressure of carving out any more for himself than what already exists on the team.

Coming to the OKC Thunder is Nerlens Noel’s first big sporting decision of his career. Based on the game film, it should prove to be an astute one. After all, in case you didn’t notice, every one of these clips came from the same game.