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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Nerlens Noel reveals how he will put Nets’ defense ‘over the top’

Nets center Nerlens Noel will make his Brooklyn debut Tuesday at Houston after the team signed him to a 10-day contract Saturday. The 28-year-old struggled to carve out a role in Detroit early this year, playing just 12 games before eventually agreeing to a buyout.

Noel, the 6th overall pick in the 2013 draft, ranked third in the league in blocks for New York in 2020-21 with 2.2 per game. And the big man had no shortage of confidence when speaking about what he can bring on that end prior to his first game as a Net.

“This is already a Top 10 defense I’m pretty sure, especially with what they have, so I’m going to put it over the top,” Noel said via Brian Lewis. “And however coach sees (the) fit, whatever position he wants to put me in, I’ll accept regardless.”

Noel appeared in 89 games for the Knicks from 2020 to 2022. The newest Net offered a quick response when asked what he hopes to bring during his second stint in the big apple with Brooklyn.

“Energy! The energy,” he said. “New York is passionate about what they bring, what they’re about. I’ve known that, and I love it. Period”

Noel will look to fill what has been a glaring hole for the Nets this season behind breakout center Nic Claxton. Ben Simmons has struggled to produce as a backup center while battling injuries. The former number-one pick has not appeared post-All-Star break after experiencing left knee soreness and more recently inflammation in his back. Second-year big man DayRon Sharpe filled the role sparingly but has been largely ineffective while bouncing in and out of Brooklyn’s rotation.

The Nets opened their first win streak of the new-look era with a 28-point comeback in Boston Friday and a decisive win over Charlotte Sunday. Brooklyn sits two games ahead of Miami for sixth place in the Eastern Conference as they kick off a five-game road trip in Houston.

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