NBA Draft 2013: Kentucky's Nerlens Noel Player Profile

Here we continue to examine the top prospects for the 2013 NBA Draft. Today we examine:

Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky, 6’10”, 228 lbs

2012-13 Collegiate Stat Line: (all stats courtesy of ESPN.com)

10.5 points, 59% field goals, 52% free throws, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks, 2.1 steals

The Skinny:

Despite suffering a gruesome ACL tear towards the end of the season, Kentucky prospect Nerlens Noel is still one of the top available players in the 2013 NBA Draft. An elite athlete, Noel’s length, athleticism and interior presence alone makes him one of the best available players in this year’s class. He’s a raw talent and could be a huge get for a number of teams.

Strengths:

With a 6’10” frame and a 7’4” wingspan, Noel has the presence alone to block shots and make his opponents fear putting up shots against. His average of 4.4 blocks per game in his lone college season is no joke. He’s the real deal in the post and has the ability to humiliate his opponent on the defensive end.

Never question a player’s motor when you look at draft prospects. Few players on the court out-hustle Noel when he’s on the court. This helps play into his shot-blocking ability and interior presence. He’s a hustler, something few players from Kentucky under John Calipari can say.

He’s a raw talent. Noel is so physically gifted he will have no issues adjusting to the NBA style of play once he is healthy enough to compete.

Weaknesses:

Obviously the biggest knock against Nerlens Noel is his recently torn ACL. General recovery time for this type of injury is about nine months to a full year. There are some cases where this can be altered, such as Adrian Peterson of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.

Then you look at Derrick Rose. Although the doctors have cleared Rose to compete he has yet to return. This could be something along the lines of Rose being scared to compete at such a high level after such a devastating injury. It’s hard to say how Noel’s recovery will go, but it will be the biggest headline regarding his draft stock.

Offensively, Noel is a huge question mark. He’s developed a nice baby hook over the course of the year but overall his offense is suspect. There have been a few guys where this has not affected their NBA careers, just as Joakim Noah, but it’s another thing to note. His athleticism will help ease some of these concerns but it’s something he will have to work on as well.

It will be a little bit harder for Noel to develop an offensive game while rehabbing a knee injury. It will be a challenge. However, his pure talents alone will get him a shot in the NBA.

Highlight Game:

Feb. 2 at Texas A&M (W 72-68 OT) 19 points, 7-for-10 field goals, 5-for-10 free throws, 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocks

Scoring a season-high in points, Noel was dominant inside the paint on both offense and defense. He was efficient in scoring and an animal on the glass. Easily his best overall showing on the season and proved against the Aggies that he can be an threat on offense as well as defense.

Lowlight Game:

Dec. 1 vs. Baylor (L 64-55) eight points, 3-for-14 field goals, 2-for-3 free throws, 16 rebounds, six steals

Noel was very consistent all year long so seeing the 16 rebounds and six steals is not surprising. Early in the season, this is where Noel showed his weaknesses on the offensive end, getting pushed out of the lane by the bigger Isaiah Austin and struggled from the field.

Potential Landing Spots:

Depending on the team, Nerlens Noel could very well end up being the top overall selection in the 2013 Draft. Some teams may be scared off by his ACL recovery, but he won’t fall farther than the fifth pick. If he does, it will be because those teams can’t look past the already injured knee of a center who focuses his entire game on shot blocking. It’s possible, but unlikely that he falls past the fifth pick.

Teams That Make Sense:

Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats need basically everything. Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been shining stars in their young careers, but beyond them the entire organization is a mess. Charlotte allowed 102.7 points during the 2012-13 NBA season, ranking 29th in the league. They need help stopping opponents from scoring and Nerlens Noel is a prime candidate to help sure up the defense. They should be willing to take a gamble on Noel considering their standing in the league.

Washington Wizards: John Wall and Bradley Beal are the leaders for the Wizards heading into the future. Nene and Emeka Okafor are getting up there in age and won’t be effective for much longer. Can you imagine an offense with Wall, Beal and Noel? Maybe the second coming of Lob City? Probably not, but it’s a fun thought to think about.

Overall Synopsis:

Knees. Healthy knees are something all NBA teams want in their star players. Right now Nerlens Noel does not have that. However, he is still young and has a promising future ahead of him. He’ll have no problems finding a home in the NBA Draft, but what he does when he finds that home is what will be the big question.

Tags: Adrian Peterson Baylor Bears Bradley Beal Charlotte Bobcats Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose Emeka Okafor Joakim Noah John Wall Kemba Walker Kentucky Wildcats Michael Kidd-Gilchrist NBA NBA Draft 2013 Nene Nerlens Noel Texas A&M Aggies Washington Wizards

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