MINNEAPOLIS - Nerlens Noel is being rebuilt in more ways than one.
The 76ers are rebuilding the shot of the rehabilitating rookie center, who was known just as a shot blocker at Kentucky.
"I'm thrilled with what he's done with his shot," coach Brett Brown said before Wednesday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. "You know, we said from the very beginning, it's an opportunity. One I hope he never has again."
The 6-foot-11, 228-pounder has yet to play in a game this season while he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He hurt his knee in February during his lone season at Kentucky. Noel averaged 10.5 points a game with the Wildcats.
Brown said the 19-year-old Noel is unlikely to participate in five-on-five scrimmages until "down the road, maybe a ways down the road." There's a thought that Noel will not play at all this season.
But he is still very much a part of the team.
In addition to working with Brown on his shot, Noel participates in video meetings, attends shootarounds, and interacts with his coach during games.
"He comes in," Brown said, "and he's a part of everything of that we are doing. He's just like a player that doesn't play.
"I want him to hear my words. I want him to be in team meetings where it's happy, it's sad, it's real. I like asking him questions during the game."
The Sixers are trying to engage Noel as much as possible.
Fans see him on the court before games begin. Noel is usually attempting one-handed shots at different spots on the floor. At times he competes against Brown in shooting contests.
Starting from scratch, the Sixers concentrated on the positioning of his shooting hand and his release point.