I don’t know who is up for the job, maybe a big man whisperer. Maybe Iyanla Vanzant has a version of Fix My Basketball Life. This much is clear. Nerlens Noel has issues. But they are issues the Dallas Mavs care nothing about because Noel has just been suspended for taking a banned substance (allegedly marijuana) for the third time. His Mavericks career is over and when you do the math you realize Nerlens Noel has been underwhelming and a bore, minus the entertainment memes factor when Noel went for food at halftime and found himself in the media room searching for, what he called, energy. Let’s start the Noel highlight reel.
Last summer he was offered a nice ($70 million) deal by Dallas, turned it down because of greed, then tried to walk back the turn down but was rebuffed by Mark Cuban and had to settle for the qualifying offer which was about $66 million less than the offer he turned down. Noel tried to spin it by saying he was going to use the 2017-18 season to prove his haters wrong. He’d get paid in the summer of 2018 or so he wished. Everyone would recognize his greatness. But because he is Nerlens Noel, there was that stretch in November where he played 7 minutes in three games, after playing 28 minutes against Minnesota and New Orleans. Add in Rick Carlisle’s cryptic “minutes are earned” remark and you had a season already bordering on apocalypse or mutiny. Noel, who has a sense of entitlement because [ I am not sure why], takes brooding to a new level. Whatever thin honeymoon existed (after a humbling financial summer), it was over pretty quickly for Noel and for the Mavericks.
What about when Noel wandered into the media room during halftime wanting a hot dog because he needed energy. He then hurt his hand and was out indefinitely which brings us to the banned substance intended to do what? Other than make Noel super chill and forget he has underperformed his entire career? (Getting caught three times is straight up stupid).
As part of the Process, Noel was supposed to join the Embiid, Saric, Simmons ensemble. But, he doesn’t haven’t much offensive talent other than being tall and running the floor. He is worthless outside of five feet.
Nerlens Noel was drafted with the sixth pick in the 2013 draft and in 5 years has amassed these totals: 2,067 points, 1,615 rebounds. He has played in 223 games or to really break it down, he’s missed 46% of his career.
It was clear early on that Rick Carlisle didn’t trust Noel. Dirk Nowitzki was on fumes, career low numbers, making Noel’s minutes more likely to go up, not down, but they went down anyway because, you know, it’s Noel.
Carlisle said back in November, “If you go outside the system and start breaking rules wlly-nilly, there’s not going to be help built in for you and then there’s problems and you have to get guys out of the game”. Carlisle was referring to defensive principles. Which goes back to Carlisle’s “minutes have to be earned” theology. Here is what Carlisle expects from his bigs.
- Defensive Intensity on pick and roll.
- Not sleepwalking when the offense is not about you.
- Pay attention to details.
- Lose nonchalance on screens.
- Exhibit a competitor’s heart.
Noel was someone who complained in Philly and that got him shipped out. On the one hand, he sulks. On the other hand, he says the things you want a player to say. You know, all the stuff about playing hard. But in Dallas, something was lost in translation. When Noel was hurt, it was a breath of fresh air.
Carlisle and every NBA coach has a responsibility to put the best team on the floor. Dennis Smith Jr. was developing this season. Dirk Nowitzki was hanging on. In the middle of it was Nerlens Noel whose role diminished month after month. At this point in his career, he is a bust.
Fact: Noel is boring. He lacks touch and offensive skill once he moves away from the basket. He isn’t the stretch big man the NBA is in love with. He is pretty old school as far his game being the rim or nothing. But he doesn’t make up for his deficiencies by setting hard screens and rolling to the basket. He doesn’t always compete which was a problem in Philly too. It’s one thing to lack versatility. It’s another to not play hard and ignore the details.
What the Mavs wanted was Noel to protect the rim, finish in the paint, not gamble on defense, set screens, read his man.
For the Mavs, the season was always about getting Dennis Smith Jr. the reps and experience that he needs to go forward since he is the Mavs point guard and star of the future and the Mavs were intent on setting themselves up for the lottery where there are a bunch of bigs who do what Noel cannot. Score. Rebound. Block shots. So in that, they were successful.
At rehabilitating Noel, they were not.