As the season ends, I don’t see any reason why Sixers’ center Nerlens Noel shouldn’t be in the conversation for the award, rookie of the year. And really, I don’t even see why Noel shouldn’t be the runaway rookie of the year.
The former Kentucky Wildcat has been fantastic as of late. He has consistently and gradually improved every game. Noel’s constant and impressive improvement has convinced me that he is the best rookie in the league. During November, Noel averaged 7.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1 block, and 1.8 steals. Throughout February and March, he has averaged nearly 11 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and 2.5 steals.
Wow. That’s an impressive jump, and I don’t see why that trend should stop. During his five games in March, Noel is averaging 35 minutes per game and taking nearly 3 more shots than he did in February. In addition, despite the increase in shot attempts, his field goal percentage has not significantly diminished. This shows how even though his shot intake has propelled, it hasn’t slowed down his scoring efficiency very much. Without Michael Carter-Williams, he will be given more opportunities to score and improve. He has shown he can do just that over the past couple games.
So does that make him the best rookie in the league? Has he been more successful than Andrew Wiggins? Elfrid Payton? Marcus Smart? There are many reasons why Noel should bring in the award over competing rookies, but I see major gaps between their play and his. I feel as though the only person close to challenging the Sixers’ center is Andrew Wiggins. When I look at the Canadian native, I also see some of his numbers skyrocketing as of late. Since the all-star break he has averaged 20 points. But he hasn’t done much else. His rebounds have decreased to 3.9 per game and his assists have stayed stagnant at 2. If the rookie of the year battle went merely off of points, Wiggins would definitely win. But it doesn’t. At this point, Noel has shown he is a better all around player in all phases of the game. As he starts to have more minutes, his points along with other stats will continue to improve, unlike Wiggins.
All of these numbers and facts exemplify how Noel has improved over the past couple months, and why he should be the rookie of the year. Look for Nerlens to keep up his development through the coming years, all the way until I am writing an article about why he deserves to be in the all star game. Stay patient my Sixer fans, this kid is good.
First photo courtesy of https://uproxx.files.wordpress.com
Second photo courtesy of solecollector.com