You could tell from the expression on Nerlins Noel’s face several minutes into Draft Night that things weren’t going according to plan. Not only was Anthony Bennett’s selection as the number 1 overall pick a shock to expert analysts everywhere (see Bill Simmon’s facial expression and his “WOW” on ESPN), but it soon became evident that Noel’s surgically repaired ACL had injected some deep-seated fear into the hearts of team decision makers around the league. The only question remaining was as to how far his stock might fall. New Orleans selected him with the 6th overall pick only to then trade him to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday and a 2014 first round pick.
Number 6 might not have been the plan for Noel, but neither was suffering a potentially career threatening ACL injury in the first place. With his rehab well under way, all signs point toward a full recovery and an NBA debut for the Sixers next season. ”Noel, the First,” by Michael Bradley of SLAM Magazine, is this week’s SLAM Feature on Prohoopstrength.com, and explores the past four months in Noel’s life, and what will hopefully be a promising NBA career in the short time to come.