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Rebounding Woes Continue As Sixers Fall To Magic 91-89

The Sixers have struggled on the defensive glass so far this season. A look at Nerlens Noels defensive woes, along with some thoughts from Sixers head coach Brett Brown.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers entered last night's game against the Orlando Magic 27th in the league in defensive rebounding percentage.

Then the Magic went out and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds on only 49 missed field goal attempts.

Through 5 games, the Sixers defensive rebounding percentage sits at 69.3%, ranking them at 28th in the league. That's bad. Really bad. No team in the NBA has finished below 71% in either of the previous two seasons.

"Not as much as I want to," Sixers coach Brett Brown said after the game, when asked whether he sees an instinct for rebounding in Nerlens Noel. "I think that it's possible, because of what we saw him do in AAU, in high school, at Kentucky. It's in him to go be a great rebounder, we think. To date we haven't seen it as much as we want to."

"I have to help him, coach him cheerlead, and wind him up to go get things," Brown continued.

It was a slightly different tone than the coach had before the game.

"I personally think that rebounders are kind of born," Brown said. "There are other parts of the game, a lot of them, I think you can improve on. I feel like rebounding, just gut feel, isn't one of them."

That's not all bad, as Noel was a good defensive rebounder at Kentucky, where he had a defensive rebounding percentage of 22.3%, a solid, although not dominant, number. He also had some success to start the season, with defensive rebounding percentage of 20.1%, 27.3%, and 22.5% in the first three games of the season, before failing to crack double digits in rebounding percentage in either of the last two games.

Part of Noel's struggles has certainly been positioning, as the team has had him fronting the much bigger Dwight Howard and Nikola Vucevic for much of the last two games. Part of it is also body type, with the undersized (in terms of strength) Noel clearly suffering from a lack of lower body strength, something that the coach has questioned how much it is in his DNA to improve upon.

But it goes beyond scheme. There have been times when he has been in position, but has not been able to come down with rebounds. Only 32.1% of Noel's rebounds thus far have been contested, and he's only pulled down 1 contested rebound in his last three games. Furthermore, he's only grabbed 46.7% of his rebounding chances, which measures the ratio of rebounds a player gets when compared to the number of chances he has, with chances defined as being within 3.5 feet of a rebound. As a point of reference, Anthony Davis grabs 75.7% of his rebounding chances, with 52.8% of his rebounds being contested.

Player % of chances rebounded % of rebounds contested
Nerlens Noel 46.7% 32.1%
Anthony Davis 75.7% 52.8%
Tim Duncan 66.7% 65.7%
Brandon Davies 52.6% 47.1%

While this is not likely to be as big of a concern when paired with Joel Embiid later on in his career, having Noel be a more consistent factor on the defensive glass would be a huge benefit, as he's still likely to play considerable minutes at the 5 spot alongside a stretch 4 in the future.

Still, it's impossible to pin all of the teams defensive rebounding woes on Noel, as the team still has a defensive rebounding rate of only 70.9% when Noel is off the court, which would rank as near the bottom of the league most seasons. The Magic grabbed 9 offensive rebounds on 30 missed field goals in the second half last night, a half in which Noel only played 3:44 before leaving the game with a left ankle sprain. Pinning all the Sixers rebounding woes on Noel would be a mistake.

While the offensive side of the basketball has been bad (really bad), with the worst offensive rating in the league, that's largely dictated by personnel. Brett Brown has this team playing pretty good half-court defense, and it's the little things, the turnovers, defensive rebounding, and transition defense, that he's likely to focus on improving.

Nernels Noel injury update.

Noel left the game only 3:44 into the third quarter with a left ankle sprain.

Coach Brown had no real information on the extent of the injury immediately after the game.

In the locker room, Noel talked to reporters and didn't seem to think it was too big of a deal.

"It wasn't that bad though. There's very little swelling," Noel said after the game. "I'm just going to come to practice tomorrow and see how it feels. Get with the training staff early and get some rehab in."

Michael Carter-Williams to begin practicing

Before the game, Brett Brown confirmed that Michael Carter-Williams will be a full participant at practice on Thursday.

"People have said he's got a chance on playing on the 13th. We'll monitor that, [but] we don't want to paint ourselves in a corner," Brown said, when asked what the next steps were in his return.

Michael Carter-Williams had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder on May 6th.

Other notes

  • Henry Sims struggled offensively off the bench, scoring only 3 points on 1-5 shooting. He didn't make a shot from the field until his jumper tied the game at 89 with 4.9 seconds left, briefly giving Sixers fans hope that they would pull out their first win of the season before Tobias Harris won the game as time expired.
  • Tony Wroten shot 4-6 from three point range on his way to a 27 point, 8 assist, 5 steal performance (albeit with 9 turnovers). It was the second most three's Wroten has made in a game in his career, behind only the 5-8 performance he had at Toronto last season.
  • Brandon Davies scored 20 points on 9-11 shooting from the field. 20 is Davies career high, beating the 18 he had scored Saturday against Miami. He's now second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.6 points per game on the season. Wroten (20.8 points per game) is the only other Sixer averaging in double figures scoring.
  • K.J. McDaniels had another good game, scoring 12 points on 5-10 shooting, including an incredible oop and another made three pointer. He's now averaging 9.6 points in only 21 minutes per night, shooting 53.8% from three point range and leading all rookies (who have played at least 20 minutes) in PER.


Brett Brown post game press conference

Brandon Davies and Tony Wroten post game

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