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Nerlens Noel report card: Solid backup to Steven Adams provided

Nerlens Noel provided the Thunder with a valuable backup center in 2018-19. Here are the grades for his season:


Replacing Adams: B. Noel played 29 minutes with non-center starters Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Terrance Ferguson and Jerami Grant. With Noel replacing Steven Adams in such situations, the Thunder played OK, outscoring foes 58-56. In 44 minutes with the regulars except Dennis Schroder in place of Ferguson, Noel’s stock went up – OKC outscored foes 111-95 in 44 minutes.


Rim protection: A. Noel gave the Thunder a mobile and active shot blocker. His 3.3 blocked shots per 36 minutes were the highest of his career and the most by a Thunder since Serge Ibaka blocked 3.5 per 36 minutes in 2012-13.


Lob game: A. Noel became quite adept at catching alley-oop passes for dunks. He had 76 dunks this season – 30 percent of his shots were dunks and almost half his makes (162). Noel dunked at almost the same rate (a dunk every 13.9 minutes) as he did in 2015-16 with the 76ers, when he had 151 dunks (a dunk every 13.0 minutes).


Defense: C. Outside of shot-blocking, Noel struggled at times defensively. His pick-and-roll decisions were shaky at times. And he often was overpowered on post defense. The Western Conference is full of burly big men who play with second units. Montrezl Harrell, Derrick Favors, Mason Plumlee, Julius Randle, Enes Kanter and Ivica Zubac combined to make 28 of 46 shots this season when matched against Noel. That led to a lot of fouls – Noel averaged a career high 5.7 fouls per 36 minutes, the most on the Thunder.


Shooting touch: D. Noel made just 39.1 percent of his shots from 5-9 feet. From 5-19 feet, Noel made 37.4 percent. Adams, whose touch is not particularly exalted, made 48.2 percent of his shots from 5-19 feet. Noel showed the propensity to flip in a little left-handed (he’s right-handed), but consistency was lacking. Noel made just 10 of 29 shots when defenders were at least six feet away.

Related Photos
Oklahoma City's Nerlens Noel (3) blocks the shot of Portland's Al-Farouq Aminu (8) during Game 4 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Portland won 111-98. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma City's Nerlens Noel (3) blocks the shot of Portland's Al-Farouq Aminu (8) during Game 4 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Portland won 111-98. Photo...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-eb92d7a218d171554f6cebc9a9c9e4b4.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Nerlens Noel (3) blocks the shot of Portland's Al-Farouq Aminu (8) during Game 4 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Portland won 111-98. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman" title="Oklahoma City's Nerlens Noel (3) blocks the shot of Portland's Al-Farouq Aminu (8) during Game 4 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Portland won 111-98. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Oklahoma City's Nerlens Noel (3) blocks the shot of Portland's Al-Farouq Aminu (8) during Game 4 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Sunday, April 21, 2019. Portland won 111-98. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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