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Excitement building over Noel's looming debut
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Lloyd Pierce hasn’t been running the Sixers’ summer league practices for too long, but already he knows the drill.

“Are you guys ready for your Nerlens update?” Pierce asked the gathered media following Wednesday afternoon’s workout at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

After a year-plus without the chance to see Noel running up and down the basketball court, there doesn’t seem to be enough information about Noel and his basketball activities to go around. In fact, the staff at the Sixers’ workouts appears just as excited as everyone else to see Noel play in his summer league debut on Saturday in Orlando (1 p.m./TCN).

Nevertheless, by all accounts, Noel was impressive in his second day of workouts. Pierce says Noel played back-to-back 12-minute scrimmage sessions without coming out for a substitute. The 6-foot-11 center ran the floor, had a few dunks and a monstrous blocked shot that may have been the highlight of the workout.

“One of the biggest factors will be what his conditioning is like in a non-stop setting, and today he looked great,” Pierce said. “All the things we want to see — him being able to be fluid, be athletic and to carry it over on both sides of the floor — he did a great job.”

So about that monster block that was talked about … is that something we can expect during the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues and beyond?

“It felt good,” Noel said. “It’s nice to get back into it and my defensive instincts are starting to blossom back. I feel great. I’m making sure my timing is down and I’m staying on the floor on pump fakes.”

However, the offense might take a little longer to develop for Noel. Known more as a Joakim Noah-type defensive player, Noel spent the entire 2013-14 season reconstructing his shooting form. With that part completed, Noel is adding post moves to the repertoire.

Like everything else, that part of his game is coming along, too.

“It’s definitely developing,” Noel said. “I’m adding the post moves to my game and a 15-to-18-foot jump shot — it’s still a work in progress. The form is all cleaned up so it’s all about reps and reps and working to build confidence.”

The offense will develop in time for Noel, who turned 20 in April. The short-term project for the Sixers’ coaches is determining whether Noel can mix the instincts with the Sixers’ program.

We’ll get a quick look on Saturday.

“Obviously, all year he got to sit and listen,” Pierce said. “Now he’s on the floor he has to listen, run, react and try to put all those things together. It’s a process. We simplify the offense for everybody in summer league and it will benefit Nerlens especially.”

There is no play anyone can sketch for the transition dunk. Based on the descriptions coming from the players and coaches in the practice gym, the dunk in transition has been Noel’s best shot.

In the meantime, the anticipation is palpable.

“I can't wait to start banging with NBA centers,” Noel said. “I'm a little bigger, but it'll be an adjustment.”