By Ray Boyd
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Being a true Sixers fan and optimist is all about finding the signs of positivity in an otherwise bleak situation. Last year that role was played by Michael Carter-Williams. As the team struggled their way to a 19 win season, watching the Rookie of the Year campaign from Carter-Williams provided a sense of hope.
This year's version of that resides in two young players. K.J. McDaniels and Nerlens Noel are doing their best to receive some attention among this class of rookies and both players are doing relatively well early in the season.
Noel is officially in his second NBA season, but since he did not play last year, he is officially regarded as a rookie. The word for Noel is definitely raw. It is clear that he has not played organized basketball in quite some time.
With that said, the flashes are there. Noel has the tools to develop into a defensive stalwart and a perpetual source of energy for the Sixers.
Noel is currently averaging seven points per game to go along with 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. The numbers are not flashy, but the moments where he shines are examples of why the Sixers made the deal they did to get him.
He currently leads all rookies in the NBA in blocks per game. He is also top ten in that category among all players. His ability to change shots at the rim was his most well regarded skill and he is showing that the skill is translating well.
Second to Noel on that list among rookies is McDaniels who is averaging 1.4 blocks per game playing the guard position.
McDaniels impact has been somewhat of a surprise considering that he was a second round pick out of Clemson. He is proving to be a high-value pick taken that late.
The rookie out of Clemson is doing more than just swatting shots. McDaniels is averaging 8.6 points per game on the season and is shooting 40% from beyond the arc.
He is proving to have the potential to be a true "three and D," player, someone who can space out a defense on the offensive end and lock down a team's best perimeter player on defense. Think of a player like Bruce Bowen in his prime. McDaniels could be that type of player, but with a lot more athletic ability. He can produce highlights like this.
Both players are currently in the top five in the NBA's latest Rookie Ladder.
Noel ranks number 4 on the list while McDaniels comes in surprisingly at number 3.
The final outcome of the games might be tough to watch currently, but the development of these two athletic specimens is definitely something worth keeping an eye on.
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