THE OFFENSIVE arsenal has gotten a little more varied for Nerlens Noel. Still raw as can be, but varied. Noel is now comfortable trying a handful of ways to improve his offensive game.
"Early in the season I would just get it and go," Noel said. "That was my mistake. I was just moving too fast. Now I think I've slowed down. I'm starting to take more hits on my first move and that is now leading to a counter-move. The game just grows from here."
He had his best offensive showing of the season in Monday's 18-point loss to the Boston Celtics, going for 19 points while shooting 9-for-12 from the floor. He also corralled eight rebounds, dished four assists and had three steals and two blocks.
His recent attempts to score have consisted of hard drives to the basket, baby hooks, floaters in the lane and even a midrange jumper. Again, while none of those moves is close to being refined, the 6-11 center is more comfortable trying different things.
"I'm more and more developing the floater," said Noel, who had shot 1-for-12 in the two games prior to Boston. "I think it complements my quickness and my ability to get to the basket and use my soft touch. It's definitely a read. You see how the defender is playing. If the guy plays up, then the floater would probably be the best bet. I'm working on getting my mindset to just dunking everything, really. As I find my spots and continue to get stronger throughout the season and get used to it I think it will be a dunk."
There has been more aggressiveness from him lately at both ends of the floor. Noel had a strong block on a dunk attempt by Boston's Jared Sullinger, who goes about 290 pounds. He had a very strong follow dunk in practice. The more he attacks the rim, on both sides of the court, the better the results seem to be. Right, coach?
"I don't know. I think it's going to be a bit of a smorgasbord," Brown said of Noel's offense. "I would feel irresponsible saying, 'You go down there and you only shoot jump hooks.' We've worked a lot with his free throw. He's taken that form and confidence and now he's moving out to a 17-footer and if he's open he's going to look at the rim. I want to encourage those types of things. At the end of the day it's going to be athletically driven instead of being a signature move.
"Speed, turn and face, speed. Pound, pound, jump hook. He can get away with that and he's decent. Seventeen-footers at this stage, you're probably not going to set a play up to win a game by him doing that. But if he's open I'm going to encourage him shooting that. I think him turning and facing and going at people is, right now, his best strength. We still challenge him to rebound. I think his presence at the rim and what he did offensively about the variety of ways that he actually can find ways to score, I think he's moving forward well."
At the end of practice, newcomer Furkan Aldemir was sitting in a corner with ice on his right heel. Brett Brown said that it got sore during practice, sore enough for Aldemir to have to sit down. He didn't know anything more and expected the Turkish transport will be OK . . .
After tomorrow's home game against Charlotte, the Sixers play the next seven games on the road, starting with Sunday in Orlando . . . Legendary Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee attended practice and talked afterward with Brett Brown.