Nerlens Noel wasn't the first overall draft pick. In fact, he didn't even land in the top five of the 2013 NBA Draft class. He was eventually selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the sixth pick, then moved to the Philadelphia 76ers in a stunning trade that sent Jrue Holiday to New Orleans. Once considered the unanimous No. 1 pick of the draft, Noel's draft night did not go as expected. Now, he intends to make the teams that passed on him pay.
With a perplexed look on his face, Noel tried to force out a smile. When asked about the five teams who passed him, Noel tried to stay positive, but admitted he felt overlooked.
"Oh yeah, I'm going to make them pay," Noel confided to USA TODAY Sports.
The Sixers rolled the dice on Andrew Bynum last summer and are poised to replace the oft-injured free-agent big man with another center that has injury concerns. Noel's recovery from a torn ACL is reportedly ahead of schedule, but it didn't stop teams from passing on dealing with the potential health problems that could follow.
Noel, known for his defensive prowess, now has more motivation to return from his injury and make an impact around the rim for the Sixers. That counts double against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats and Phoenix Suns.