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Nerlens Noel Ranked 97th in Sports Illustrated's Top 100 NBA Players

Nerlens Noel looks to be the only 76er included.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Illustrated compiles a yearly ranking of the NBA's Top 100 players for the following season from its two lead NBA bloggers - Rob Mahoney and Ben Golliver, both very-respected writers - and Nerlens Noel might be the only 76er included on the list at number 97. Here's Mahoney on the second-year center:

Over the course of his rookie season, Noel evolved from an empty void of an offensive player to an occasionally helpful one. That shift was enough to let the now 21-year-old's strengths on defense shine through to top 100 standing. Very rarely do rookies actually help their teams on defense, an area of the game where the only means of consistent success is earned acumen. Noel stands as an exception. Despite his age and inexperience, Noel averaged better than two steals and two blocks per 36 minutes while terrorizing opponents from the three-point line in. Rim protectors have no business being this quick on their feet. That Noel defies the standard allows him to reject shots with lightning-bolt fury and dart outside to repel guards as needed.

Notably, 2015 ROY Andrew Wiggins landed at number 90 and fellow ROY contender Nikola Mirotic went unranked. Seven spots on an arbitrary list isn't anything to get worked up about.

Check out the link for the full ranking from 51-100 - while some names seem higher due to name value (looking at you, Deron Williams) it's a pretty fair look at ranking the NBA's top players, and Noel being included despite his offensive short-comings at his age is a testament to just how good Nerlens Noel plays on defense.

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