Nerlens Noel will not be ready for the NBA season opener and is targeting Christmas as his debut date.

Noel said he is ''ahead of schedule” in his rehab from a torn ACL in his left knee.

''I've started to shoot some free throws the last week with a different type of brace on,'' said Noel, who has yet to start running again. ''I'm 100 percent confident of not just gaining what I had but definitely being stronger, coming back better. During this time that I won't be playing basketball I'll just be working on a lot of things that I needed to polish when I was playing.''

Noel called shooting among his needed areas of improvement.

''I think I'm at a good point, but obviously I can't do too much right now,'' Noel said. ''I'm just doing a lot of form shooting right now. I think when I come back I'll be able to knock down that 15-footer and be able to take my game to another level.''