Nerlens Noel had an eventful draft day experience last night. After weeks of being called the prospective No. 1 pick, Noel slipped to sixth overall, where he was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans. Almost immediately after he walked off the stage, the 19-year-old from Kentucky was shipped off to the Philadelphia 76ers in a trade involving Jrue Holiday.
This past Tuesday, fans were lined up down the block on 42nd Street, hoping to get a chance to meet Noel when he stopped by Champs Sports in Times Square. While there, we sat down with the newest member of the Sixers to discuss that troublesome knee, Will Smith's rap career, and his thoughts on the NBA's "one-and-done" rule.
Interview by Justin Block (@JBlock49)
How’s the rehab been going with your torn ACL? We saw Derrick Rose struggle with the psychological aspect of returning from the same injury. Do you have any mental hurdles with overcoming the injury?
Yeah, definitely. I’ve got a great group of people around me always giving me good advice. I’m just definitely listening to my physical therapist Kevin Wilkins and Dr. James Andrews. They’ve been doing this for a while, so I’m just being careful to make sure I come back at 110 percent.
When the doctors say you’re ready to go, will you be ready to hit the court?
Yeah, yeah. You definitely gotta go with what he [Dr. Andrews] says.
I’m going to come in there, work my butt off every day, and look to make myself and my teammates better as well.
What have you been doing to assure teams that your knee will be okay long-term?
We’re definitely taking it day-by-day, step-by-step. I’m definitely just being patient with it. I’m working that much harder so I can come back stronger than before.
Have you talked to any specific teams in the lead-up to the draft about where they might want to draft you?
Nah, nah. I don’t get too much into particular spots. I just went to a few teams, got to know them, and they got to know me. It was definitely more on a personal level.
What can you contribute to an NBA team, on and off the court, from day one?
Just a good, positive work ethic. A good team attitude. I’m going to come in there, work my butt off every day, and look to make myself and my teammates better as well.
Now being a little self-aware here, what parts of your game do you need to work on personally to make a difference at the NBA level?
Definitely, everything on offense. Just working on my body. Putting up good size, good weight and getting stronger. Working on everything 15 feet and in, so I can knock down that jumper. And using my athleticism to get there.