Philadelphia 76ers power forward Nerlens Noel will undergo a “minor surgical procedure” on his left knee in the coming days, due to an inflamed plica, per Marc Stein of ESPN. The left knee is the same one that he suffered a torn ACL in during his lone season at Kentucky.
Noel is coming off his second NBA season, having averaged 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the 76ers last year, starting 62 games. He missed the first season after being drafted due to the knee injury, but is still only 22 years old at the start of the 2016 campaign.
Taken sixth overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2013 NBA Draft, Noel was widely regarded as a top choice in the draft, but skipped over due to the knee injury. Shortly after being selected, the 76ers sent All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans in exchange for Noel, effectively moving inside the Top 10, while also selecting point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who would go on to win Rookie of the Year honors that season.
Noel’s numbers stagnated last season due to the addition of rookie center Jahlil Okafor, who averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Normally accustomed to playing the center position, Noel’s transition to the four spot on the floor was complete, when the team not only announced their intentions to not trade Okafor going forward, but also the ability of center Joel Embiid to finally get minutes on the floor.
The logjam to start the season while Philadelphia figures out roles is going to be competitive, with Noel’s injury likely opening the door for rookie power forward Dario Saric to see an increased role. Noel is the second Sixer star to succumb to injury prior to the start of the season, with No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons having broken his foot earlier in the summer.