Nerlens Noel has been highly-touted for his ability to dominate defensively. He was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a Kentucky Wildcat, and he is currently sixth in the entire NBA in blocks per game, despite being just a rookie. If his defense continues to develop at this trajectory, he will surely be in the running for several NBA DPOY awards. While Noel's developing defense may be his true calling card, his play on the other side of the floor has also been pleasantly promising.
On the offensive end, Noel is averaging 8.8 points per game so far this season, and that number has climbed each month. He has worked tirelessly to improve his shooting stroke, and he has added a couple post moves to his previously bare offensive arsenal.
Noel is a big proponent of private coaching, and credits working with one-on-one instruction throughout his growth for much of the success he has attained in basketball up to this point.
"Private coaching has definitely helped my confidence," he stated. "It used to be when I made a move, I wasn't really sure if I was going to hit the shot. That confidence comes through with being in the gym all the time with someone that can harness that confidence inside of you, knowing that you're going to make it."
Noel's work with CoachUp this season has focused on five specific post progressions that are intended to help a post player get the upper-hand on defenders, and serves as a compliment to his work with the Sixers staff. Each move could serve as a central skill for an NBA big. The five moves that Noel has been focusing on are: the inside pivot, a drop step, the rip through, a quick baseline spin, and the pick-and-roll.
Noel runs the motions of these moves over and over again, until they become almost muscle memory, with his coach providing the defensive presence, black blocking pad in hand.
"In one word, I would describe private coaching as 'crucial,'" Noel explained. "Early on I was gifted athletically, but to really bring your skill set along, you need someone there working with you."
Thanks to detailed videos from CoachUp featuring motion graphics, high-resolution slow-motion footage, and technical step-by-step instruction, we are able to see exactly how Noel is learning and the practice he puts in before testing out a move in-game. The incorporation of some of these moves, as well as fundamental footwork, can already be seen in Noel's game.
At only 20 years of age, Noel still has ample opportunity in front of him to expand his offensive arsenal, and it is pretty promising to see him taking solid steps toward developing that part of his game. Increased confidence is already evident on the offensive end. Noel could be a double-digit scorer in the NBA off of athleticism and ability alone. If he could develop a real low-post skill set to pair with that athleticism, he could become downright dangerous, especially once you take into account his defensive dominance. Sixers' struggles aside, the future is bright for Nerlens Noel.
Check out the video of Noel working on an inside pivot progression here.