When the Charge acquired former NBA G League First Team All-Defense C Norvel Pelle, you figured it was for a good time, not a long time.
Pelle had spent a few seasons in Philadelphia’s system with Delaware and was coming off 24 appearances with the 76ers last season. Big men with NBA skill sets don’t grow on trees, so after the Charge acquired Pelle leading into the single site season in Orlando, the team knew it would only be a matter of time before he would be in the NBA.
“When we brought him in, I knew there was a good chance he would earn an NBA Call-Up because of the way he protects the rim and spaces the floor vertically,” said Charge General Manager Brendon Yu.
But getting the call-up before training camp even began? Definitely sooner than anyone could have anticipated.
Pelle signed a 10 Day contract with the Brooklyn Nets on Janurary 28th, just a day after Canton began camp in Orlando. He would get a second 10 Day deal with Brooklyn before becoming a free agent again, rejoining the Charge in Orlando just after their fifth game. With COVID protocols and the whirlwind few weeks he had, you’d give Norvel the benefit of the doubt to take some time getting acclimated to teammates and a system he never even got a chance to become acquainted with.
That time needed turned out to be just one day of practice.
Pelle was activated for his first possible Charge game and made an instant impact, scoring 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting with 11 rebounds and four blocks in 26 minutes in the win over Salt Lake City on February 21st. He came back with a nearly identical stat line double-double the next game in a close defeat to Westchester before providing a third double-double again the next game in a win over the eventual champion Lakeland Magic.
“Norvel made an immediate impact for the Charge with his size and athleticism,” said Charge Play-by-Play Voice Scott Zurilla. “He dominated the paint, especially on the defensive end, with his rebounding and shot blocking.”
Three games with Canton, three double-doubles that were efficient and big reasons why the Charge went 2-1 over that stretch. The combination of Pelle and Marques Bolden suddenly made the team extremely formidable up front and changed the team’s dynamic. We were getting a glimpse of the team intended to be built for the bubble.
But, as I said before, big men with NBA skill sets do not grow on trees. Norvel’s look with Brooklyn only determined he wasn’t the right fit for their team. His resume, and the three immediate impact games with the Charge, barely gave us all a reminder of that before he was called-up again. The Sacramento Kings came calling and as quickly as Norvel’s Wine & Gold jerseys were stitched together, he was gone again.
Pelle was called-up to the Kings on February 25th and remained with them through the rest of Canton’s season. The New York Knicks took notice of his talent and inked him to a multi-year deal on April 22nd.
“I was happy for his move to the NBA but from a selfish perspective I hated to see him go,” Zurilla went on. “It would have been fun to see what this team could have done having Norvel for a bit longer.”
“He was a game-changer in the three games we had him,” Yu concluded. “He’s in the NBA where he belongs.