Former Knicks Center Blasted for Media Day Comments

Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks

Getty Nerlens Noel of the New York Knicks reacts after he is called for a foul in the second quarter against the Indiana Pacers.

The New York Knicks saw several players depart from the organization and link up with different employers this past offseason.

At this year’s NBA media day, many of said players sporting new threads were found discussing the strengths and intangibles they once graced the Knickerbocker’s rotation with and, in turn, will now be bringing to their new squads in 2022-23.

Nerlens Noel, who played for New York for the last two seasons, was found publicly discussing his defensive expertise at the Detroit Piston’s base during the festivities and made a bold proclamation about how he wishes to be in the conversation with the rest of the league’s elite players on the less glamorous side of the ball.

“I want to play at high levels, I want to be back in [the] defensive player of the year race, I want to bring that grit back to Detroit. You know why I can’t wear [number three?] I grew up watching a guy who did that. I want to bring back that grit,” Noel said, per #DetroitKoolAid via Twitter.

Though one could view these comments by Noel as being admirable and, at least for Pistons fans, inspirational, the vast majority of engagements on NBA Central’s own tweet about the big man’s comments were rather unpleasant, with one person posting a compilation video of various people laughing.

Others commented saying they didn’t even realize the center was even still in the league.

On top of this, many believe that Nerlens Noel should be focusing his efforts on cracking the rotation rather than jumping ahead and thinking of awards season.

Some noteworthy names who will be competing for playing time alongside him within Detroit’s frontcourt are Marvin Bagley, Jalen Duren, and Isaiah Stewart.

Noel Was a Defensive Force on Knicks

Despite this backlash by those within the Twitter-verse, during his career, Nerlens Noel has proven himself to be a truly menacing defensive specimen.

Throughout his 10-year NBA tenure, the 28-year-old finds himself boasting a stellar 101 defensive rating, a blocks percentage of 5.7, a 2.7 defensive box plus-minus rating, and sports an average of 3.3 blocked shots per 100 possessions.

During his two seasons with the Knicks, Noel served as an astounding enforcer on the less glamorous side of the ball, especially back in his first season in 2020-21 where, of those who logged over 1,000 minutes played, he led the team in defensive box plus-minus (3.8), defensive rating (101), and blocks per 100 possessions (4.6).

To put this into perspective, during this same season, the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, trailed the big man in both defensive box plus-minus and blocks per 100 possessions, while tying him in defensive rating.

Though Nerlens Noel may not have the name recognition of the Gobert’s, Bam Adebayo’s, and Jaren Jackson’s of the world when it comes to defensive pedigree, as far as numbers and statistics are concerned, he’s certainly right up there with them.

Knicks President Praises RJ Barrett

In a September 23 interview on MSG Network with analyst Alan HahnNew York Knicks President of Basketball Operations, Leon Rose, couldn’t help but praise fourth-year wing RJ Barrett for his skills and production since entering the league back in 2019.

Discussing the the former lottery pick’s freshly inked four-year, $120 million contract extension, when asked by Hahn what message he believes was sent to Barrett with the contract offer, Rose was rather jubilant in his response.

“The message that it sends is RJ, you’re a centerpiece of the New York Knicks,” Rose said. “You are a key piece to our future and to our success. He is a key piece to our core. We have a great young core.

“I mean, RJ’s 22 years old and, you know, he’s continually gotten better each season, he’s a two-way player, and, you know, his numbers are in the company of elite.

“His numbers are in the company of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and Kevin Durant. They’re the only other four players that by the age of 22, scored 3,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and I believe it was 300 three-point shots.”

Barrett finds himself heading into the upcoming season fresh off a 2021-22 campaign where he posted career highs in numerous statistical categories, finishing with impressive averages of 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game.

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