Nerlens Noel poised for breakthrough season with New York Knicks

karl anthony-towns, knicks
Apr 7, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) backs towards the basket as Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nerlens Noel (3) plays defense in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have made the signing of Nerlens Noel official on Wednesday.

Noel, who last played for the Oklahoma City Thunder, signed a one-year, $5 million deal to fortify the Knicks frontcourt with third-year center Mitchell Robinson.

Noel averaged 7.4 points on 68.4 percent shooting, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 18.5 minutes of play last season, primarily serving as Steven Adams’ backup.

He joined Robinson and Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert as the only three NBA players to appear in at least 50 games and record a field goal percentage of 68-percent or greater and average at least 1.5 blocks.

Noel, the sixth overall pick in 2013, has yet to live up to the hype after entering the league as the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in his lone season in college with the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Wildcats coach John Calipari believes his former player is poised for a big season with the Knicks.

“Nerlens was a great pickup, and let me tell you why,” Calipari said recently. “It’s time to break through for him. Now, what they’re trying to do and how they’re trying to do it, they’re not trying to do it in a hurry. They have a terrific coach, a proven coach, a playoff coach.”

Noel will be reunited with Kenny Payne, the Knicks’ new assistant coach plucked from Kentucky. Noel will be the fourth former Wildcat in the Knicks roster, joining Julius Randle, Kevin Knox, and rookie Immanuel Quickley.

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