As Nerlens Noel continues to refine his craft in Dallas, the next step in his career is the development of his offensive game.
For the majority of Nerlens Noel’s career in the NBA, his main purpose has been one thing on the offensive end: roll to the basket and catch an alley-oop.
That much isn’t a surprise and Rick Carlisle acknowledges that.
“You know he is a young guy who has really been told to run to the rim and go for lobs the majority of his young career,” Carlisle said when talking about Noel’s developing offensive game.
But if that is working for Noel, why try to fix what is not broken?
Because you don’t want another Andrew Bogut on the offensive end.
During Bogut’s time in Dallas, his offensive deficiencies were brought to light every game as opposing centers would simply sit in the lane when Bogut had the ball outside of the paint. This would clog up the lane and allow the other four defenders to stay on their man around the arc.
Bogut had ZERO offensive game outside of the paint, but Nerlens Noel seems to be developing that part of his game.
“I like him. He has added a dimension he did not have. As time goes on and he gets familiar with how we play on both sides of the ball. The important thing for him in our system is he is a real definable asset,” Carlisle said at practice in the middle of the week.
Noel was traded to Dallas just over four weeks ago and has played in just 13 games for the Mavericks. Rick Carlisle’s system is complex, but even more complex to learn on the fly.
“There is some refining to be done to his game within what we need him to do. He is moving more and more in the right direction,” Carlisle said after the win over the Clippers where Noel started.
In regards to Noel’s mid-range game, Carlisle is pleased with his shot, but says Noel needs to focus on the rhythm of the shot and having the confidence in shooting the shot at the spots he likes.
“I like his mid-range shot when he is open. But when he hesitates and recoils on it, he loses his rhythm and doesn’t make it. He’s gotta be decisive and our guys got to learn the spots when he’s in and that’s available,” Carlisle said at practice.
Carlisle expanded on that before the game against Toronto also when he complimented his improving shot.
"“I do think he has that capability. He has made some shots, his free throw shooting has been respectable and I think it is going to get better and better. Yeah, he needs to work on understanding the rhythm of shooting. If you notice in games where he misses the mid-range shot, a lot of them he fakes, then goes back up. He breaks his own rhythm. You have to create situations where you have space and you know you can rhythmically rise up for the shot,” Carlisle said."
Noel focused on exactly that over the next couple of hours after Carlisle said that. He went out and went 3-for-6 from beyond the paint as he and Wesley Matthews led the team in scoring with 15 points a piece against Toronto.
He has proven his worth on the defensive end and it seems he is starting to prove it on the offensive end also. But the 22-year-old still has a long way to go in his development.
“A lot of upside there. I think when you think of the standpoint of his physical makeup, he can get stronger certainly. He is stronger than you would think looking at him. He can put on a little weight as time goes on. The skill set is there, but it’s got to be definable stuff and his teammates know where to get him the ball,” Carlisle said.
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Even though there is improvement to come on his knowledge of the system, physical makeup, and mid-range shot, make no mistake about it, the Mavericks want and need his ability to play above the rim.
“We want him to have that. That rolling, lob game is such and important part for us, the mid-range will come,” Carlisle said. “It’s pretty obvious his rim rolls are a factor for us. We need him to continue to work on the timing of when to screen and when to roll hard and all those kinds of things. Overall, I am very pleased.”
Ultimately, this will be Noel’s main goal in Dallas on the offensive end. He is the mold of a younger Tyson Chandler and has the potential to be a cornerstone in Dallas for many years to come.
“Overall I am very pleased with the trade. I like him very much as a kid,” Carlisle said.
The fan base echoes that exact statement Rick.