Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Bond growing between Sixers' young core of Carter-Williams, Noel and Embiid

It may be a while until the trio can compete on the court together, but the Sixers’ young core of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid has already begun the process of bonding beyond basketball.

It may be a while until the trio can compete on the court together, but the Sixers' young core of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid has already begun the process of bonding beyond basketball.

Carter-Williams and Noel were AAU teammates back in Boston, and they have known each other for years.

"I knew him before the flattop," Carter-Williams joked.

The duos addition to the Sixers' roster on the same evening last June was a reunion of sorts.

"It's like a dream come true," Carter-Williams said at the time. "We always talked about how we're both going to make it to the NBA. For us to end up on the same team is a blessing."

The two had on-court experience and were already acclimated off of it, so there was a familiarity to build upon. It didn't take long for the friendship to form. Noel didn't suit up for the SIxers last season, but he traveled with the team, and he learned from his friend.

"I learned a lot from Mike [Carter-Williams] last season," Noel said. "Just about being a rookie, and how he handled himself."

Noel will finally have his opportunity to apply the lessons he learned from his former BABC Boston teammate as he enters what will be his rookie season with the SIxers. Much of the pressure to turn the team around will fall on the skinny shoulders of Carter-Williams and Noel, the prized picks of the 2013 NBA Draft.

Eventually, they will have some help from another lottery pick in Joel Embiid. While they may not actually play together for a while as Embiid recovers from surgery, the young core that will be expected to lead the Sixers' climb back into contention is already starting to gel off of the court.

The process was spearheaded by the Sixers overseas trip to Spain to watch 2014 lottery pick Dario Saric compete in the FIBA games early last month.

"It was great. I think it had some sort of road trip, bonding elements to it. You haven't lived until you've walked through Spain with two seven footers," general manager Sam Hinkie joked about the trip, which he revealed was coach Brett Brown's idea.

Carter-Williams, Noel and Embiid grew admittedly closer on the three-day trek, and there is a visible bond brewing between the three of them, evident at Monday's media day.

"You ugly!" Embiid shouted at Noel, who was sitting on a stool, getting his official NBA picture taken. Noel was smiling, something Embiid refused to do throughout the afternoon, much to the dismay of the photographers tasked with shooting happy-looking NBA players.

"This is my smile," Embiid insisted, straight-faced, every time he was urged to move his mouth into a something that resembled a smile. Both the reigning Rookie of the Year and his former AAU teammate tried to help the photographers get a grin out of Embiid, even going as far as whacking him in the back of the head a couple times, but to no avail. The only time Embiid was seen with a smile was when he was off-camera, goofing around with his new teammates.

"Jo is a lovable kid," Noel stated with a semi-smirk. "He brings so much energy no matter who he's around. He's exactly what you see, he's a funny, lovable kid."

Noel's experience being sidelined last season could be very valuable to his newfound friend, and he is prepared to help however he can.

"That's a gimme," Noel said about tutoring Embiid. "[Last season] was the hardest thing I ever had to do, so I'm definitely going to stay in Jo's ear."

The trio is united by a common goal of restoring success to the Sixers. All three preach patience, and the importance of building and growing as a unit. Just as Noel learned from Carter-Williams' experiences last season, Embiid will learn from Noel this year as he prepares for his return to the court.

There are still several missing parts to the puzzle, but the Sixers have some of the pieces in place. If the trio of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid can coexist as well on the court as they have begun to off of it, the Sixers could be in store for something special.