Nerlens Noel Finally Has the Veteran Leadership He Never Had
For the first time in the short career of Nerlens Noel, he has veteran leadership on his team…and he’s ecstatic about it.
Trust the process.
The mantra for the Philadelphia 76ers has overwhelmingly been adopted by fans across the league, but for their players, trusting in that process can be difficult at times.
Nerlens Noel spent three years trusting the process and in his first time addressing the media on Saturday night before his first game in Dallas, he admitted that it was rough at times for him. But it wasn’t just the losing and injuries, it was the lack of veteran leadership on the team around him.
In Dallas, this will be exactly the opposite.
As far as experience goes, Nowitzki is at 19 years, Harris at 13, Barea at 11, and Matthews at 8. Something that Noel is not used to having around him. When the opening question was asked on how he felt being in Dallas, Noel led by mentioning the veteran presence.
“I’m ecstatic. I think this is a unique situation. I’m really excited about the veterans we have here. Having the opportunity to learn from them. Wesley, Dirk, Harrison, I’m ecstatic.”
Noel goes from a young Philly team to having a team full of veterans that know exactly what it means to be a professional in the league. You have a top 20 player of all-time in Nowitzki, a hard-nosed defensive vet in Matthews and a soft-spoken, professional leader in Barnes.
Now, Noel gets to turn to the next locker beside him for leadership instead of seeking it out from veterans on opposing teams.
"“With such a young team like that and not too much to look up to…a lot of advice I got was from veterans from opposing teams. Richard Jefferson was probably one of the first guys that really gave me some words that really brought me about to really see the situation I was in and a better way to handle it.”"
With Noel taking over the locker of Justin Anderson, he is now right beside Dirk Nowitzki. What a difference in scenery for the 22-year-old.
For Nowitzki, it’s professionalism that he looks to show Noel.
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“Just be a professional. I heard he was a hard worker in the weight room and stuff. We got a good culture here and it’s to work hard and set an example that way,” Nowitzki said. “I think HB is the perfect example of that and what we want to do. The way he works, never complains about anything. That is the culture you want around here.”
Nowitzki helped build that culture and with players like Barnes, Curry and Noel, the culture should continue.
When I asked Wesley Matthews what he could teach Noel as a veteran, Matthews talked about the part of your game outside of your abilities.
“Hopefully a lot. With him, he’s got a lot of energy and a lot of natural talent you can’t teach,” Matthews said. “He’s got a lot of natural God-given talent, God-given ability. Just trying to hone in on the fundamentals and not just relying on your athleticism and that kind of stuff.”
Armed with the physical tools and athleticism, Noel now must turn to his fundamentals to take the next step in his career.
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Now, for the first time in his career, he has the veterans around him that can help him take that next step.