Hollis Thompson wanted to test the young defender once during practice and got a rude awakening. Thompson went to leap for a dunk and Noel sent it across the practice gym.
"He's full throttle," Thompson said, chuckling as he recalled his shot getting stuffed by Noel. "He's moving well, running all over the court and blocking everything. I'm excited to play with Nerlens."
Even Jerami Grant, the young athletic swingman from Syracuse, praised Noel following his first practice before the team headed to Orlando.
"He looked good; he came out here and proved himself," Grant said. "He was the sixth player in the draft and probably should have been top-two. He looked good out here today."
"Full throttle" is the perfect description of what Nerlens Noel is. That's what got him hurt. He gives unbelievable effort all the time, and he's the best pure shot-blocker I have ever seen. I suspect Dikembe Mutombo isn't worried right now, but he might be in a few years. Noel gives up a little size to Dikembe, but he is able to block shots with either hand and is much quicker off the ground than Mutombo.
If he stays healthy, he can quickly become a household name. Noel is truly a unique talent, an instinctive shot-blocker with remarkable, elite athleticism that make him a nightmare to score over. He's not going to give you many points, but he is so quick and so skilled that even driving forwards who make it all the way to the rim may find their shot attempts going the other way. He has the ability to embarrass even professionals who are unfamiliar with his athleticism, length, and ambidexterity. I think that had he remained healthy and Kentucky made a deep run in the NCAA tournament back in 2012-13, he might have eclipsed Anthony Davis' shot-blocking freshman record.
I am really excited to see what he does in the NBA summer league. I guarantee you there will be opponents, and teammates, shaking their heads in awe.