Nerlens Noel ranked 97th in SI's top 100 NBA players

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We all know the Sixers are rebuilding, but if the folks at Sports Illustrated are to be believed, they already have a key player firmly in place.

The publication released its rankings of the league's top 100 players, and Nerlens Noel made the list -- albeit just barely.

Noel came in at 97th, and here's what SI's Rob Mahoney had to say about him:

"Over the course of his rookie season, Noel evolved from an empty void of an offensive player to an occasionally helpful one. That shift was enough to let the now 21-year-old's strengths on defense shine through to top 100 standing. Very rarely do rookies actually help their teams on defense, an area of the game where the only means of consistent success is earned acumen. Noel stands as an exception. Despite his age and inexperience, Noel averaged better than two steals and two blocks per 36 minutes while terrorizing opponents from the three-point line in. Rim protectors have no business being this quick on their feet. That Noel defies the standard allows him to reject shots with lightning-bolt fury and dart outside to repel guards as needed."

Noel needs to improve his offensive game, and he knows that. But his inclusion on this list shows that he already has plenty of skills that fans can get excited about.

(h/t: Liberty Ballers)