Nerlens Noel says he needs to learn the NBA game after rough preseason debut for Sixers

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Nerlens Noel looked sharp at times during Summer League play for the Sixers, and may have even been the best rookie there.

But he found out that playing against true NBA-level competition — even in the preseason — is an entirely different story.

Noel played 27 minutes in his team’s 20-point loss to the Celtics on Monday, and finished with four points on 2-of-9 shooting, to go along with six rebounds and four turnovers before fouling out in the fourth quarter. At practice the next day, he said he still needs to learn the intricacies of NBA game.

From Dei Lynam of

“I just have to learn the game the way the NBA plays,” Noel said. “I watched all last season, but now that I am in it I have to adjust to the physicality and get back to the principles I need to play with.”

Noel will have a chance to be more effective on Wednesday night when the Sixers host the Charlotte Hornets … if he listens to Brett Brown’s advice.

“He just needs to be a committed runner rim to rim,” Brown said. “Missed shots, he should be taking off. He is a deer. We are always encouraging that he is as commanding as he can at the defensive rebound, but it is such a wide menu of things that he is being hit with. We are trying to shrink it into small things and nurse him through as we move forward.”

The good news for Noel is that while he’s an integral piece on this tanking rebuilding Sixers team, he’ll have plenty of time to continue to develop and work on his game.

Brown spent plenty of time with him individually late last season helping him in this regard, but after an initial taste of live NBA action, it’s clear that Noel has plenty to work on; the fact that he’s willing to acknowledge it can be viewed as an extremely positive sign.