The Philadelphia 76ers got themselves a bit of good news in the fact that rookie Nerlens Noel has been cleared for contact and cleared to resume basketball-related activities.
Noel, the No. 6 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, is projected to be back on the court shortly after the All-Star break, which is good news for the Sixers, but is it equally good news for fantasy basketball owners.
That all depends on your needs.
Noel, who suffered a torn ACL in February while playing for Kentucky, could be back in game action within the next four-to-six weeks according to Dr. James Andrews.
But while that’s his prognosis, that doesn’t mean we will see the rookie that soon as the Sixers likely won’t rush him back quickly, nor does it make much sense for them to do so.
But when Noel returns, he’s worth keeping an eye on for the mere fact that he is so gifted athletically.
First thing is first and you will have to monitor his minutes as it is doubtful Sixers’ coach Brett Brown throws him into the fire. That alone doesn’t make Noel much of a fantasy option the rest of the season.
Once he gets 20-25 minutes a night, he could become a decent option down the stretch for fantasy teams in search of rebounding and blocked shots.
I have no doubts to the fact that Noel will be able to step right in and make an impact defensively and on the glass. His 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game during his lone college season should translate nicely to the NBA.
I do have some immediate concerns offensively though.
The 6’11″ Noel is up to 228 pounds, but is still likely to be pushed around by NBA bigs during his freshman campaign.
It’s very hard to look at a young big man’s college numbers and figure out how he will translate to the NBA. Noel is guy who only averaged 10.5 points per game last season at Kentucky, but did so shooting a nice 59 percent from the floor.
One thing that could make him a surprise on the offensive end is the fact that he has an explosive first step, which should translate into a nice pick-and-roll combination with fellow rookie Michael Carter-Williams.
However I just don’t envision Noel being to help fantasy owners out much at the offensive end of the floor the rest of the season.
But given his talent he is definitely worth keeping an eye on the next three or four weeks as his rehab progresses.