Patience key with Noel
Nerlens Noel could make his debut with the Sixers as early as December.
It could be January, February or even the 2014-15 season if there's a setback.
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This much is certain: Noel won't be rushed. He doesn't need to be rushed.
This is the centerpiece of the franchise and, in a rebuilding season, patience is everything.
"When I feel mentally and physically ready, I'll be back," Noel said. "I'm feeling great. I'm starting to get more of my explosiveness back, slowly but progressively."
Noel suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while playing for Kentucky in mid-February. He's now seven months into his rehabilitation and is listening to the doctors and trainers every single day.
At 19 years old, there's a long career looming for the player the Sixers acquired on draft night for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday.
Noel plans on traveling with the Sixers and picking up as much as he can before he dons a Sixers uniform.
"I've prepared myself," Noel said. "I'm doing the job. Even though I'm not playing, I'm learning. I want to learn all I can and I think that's the mindset you need. I want to be around these guys. I want to learn what the NBA lifestyle is. It prepares me for when I do come back. I think it's crucial to start now, learning about my teammates and start the bonding now. You need that to be a championship team at an elite level."
Will it be tough to watch?
"It is tough, but I came to that realization that I wouldn't be playing," Noel said. "I'm staying focused, making sure I'm supporting these guys, that I'm stepping up and making sure I'm around these guys and building the chemistry. It starts right now."
Noel played just 24 games for the Wildcats, but was still named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. The talent was evident. Though he's anxious to play, he's also being very mature about the process.
"I want to have a long and meaningful career and help the Sixers win," Noel said. "Being smart now will pay off later."