|Nerlens Noel has the size to be great in the NBA, but how will his recently torn ACL hold up? (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)|
DraftExpress Prediction: No. 1 in the first round, No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers
Synopsis: He was expected to be an Anthony Davis lookalike in performance and in leading Kentucky to possibly a second-straight NCAA Championship. Nerlens Noel wasn't a dominant as Davis and his Wildcats were wildly disappointing, but Noel still made a name for himself last season, especially on the defensive end. His 4.4 blocks per game put him as one of the best in the country, while also grabbing 9.5 rebounds per game and just generally putting fear into any opponent who thinks of himself as brave enough to drive to the paint on Noel. On the offensive side, his game is certainly not terrible, but it has a long way to go. Noel averaged 10.5 points per game on 59 percent shooting from the field, but he only took less than seven shots per game. He is going to have to be more aggressive on the offensive end.
Then there's the knee. The second Noel flew at the basket against Florida you knew it wasn't good. The torn ACL put him out for the rest of the season and we still don't know what kind of shape the knee is in. The team that drafts Noel will know it may take more time for Noel to get back to his former self, which is asking a team with a very high draft pick, who is bad and one would assume wants to improve right away, to be patient. Noel will still be a top three pick, and potentially the No. 1 pick, mostly based on his size and physical attributes. It's hard to pass up a guy who is nearly 7-feet tall with a 7'4" wingspan and has the athletic ability, especially on defense, that Noel possesses. It will take some time, both for the knee and the growth of his offensive game, but the team that takes Noel is thinking about the future, and he could have a solid future in the NBA.
Quote to note: "We're talking about a No. 1 pick who's a defensive savant, but he can't score and is injured. Offensively, he has a long way to go. He scores off activity level, not skill level. And we can't forget he's hurt. We're not talking about a sprained ankle, you'd be drafting a guy who just tore his ACL. No one said, 'I don't think Greg Oden will pan out.' This is more unusual. For a top draft pick, he raises a lot of questions." - Jay Bilas on Noel via USA Today.
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