Could Nerlens Noel’s injury shake up the NBA draft? Not really.
UPDATE 2:01 pm: The word is in and Nerlens Noel has a torn ACL for which he will have surgery in the next few weeks. The X-rays were negative and there doesn’t seem to be other damage. Expect him to miss six to eight months. Which really sucks for Kentucky.
But it’s not going to impact Noel’s NBA draft status. We quoted him below saying the same thing, but here is a tweet from Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress after the ACL injury was announced:
NBA teams are not really concerned that Noel could miss training camp and the first month of the season or so. They are drafting a player for three years from now, and an ACL is something you can make a full recovery from.
10:11 am: That is ugly. And scary.
And that is Nerlens Noel, the Kentucky center that DraftExpress and many other sites have as the No. 1 pick in the next NBA Draft.
Did that chase-down block above just change the complexion of the 2013 NBA draft?
It depends on the extent of the injury, Jonathan Givony of the go-to NBA draft site DraftExpress.com told PBT in an email. If he is expected to make a full recovery it likely does not impact his status at all, Givony said. If he’s not, all bets are off, but nobody wants to think about the young player not getting all the way back.
Remember, NBA teams are not drafting the player as you see him, they are drafting the player they think they will get in three to five years. I hate the overuse of the word “upside” during a draft as much as anyone, but that matters to an NBA team — they want a guy who can contribute at a high level in a few years. NBA teams are in the business of projecting player growth.
There is nobody in this draft who is expected to be a future franchise player, there is no Anthony Davis or Kyrie Irving of the last two drafts that is a lock No. 1. There are a number of guys in the mix for the top spot, it depends on who wins the lottery. But Noel is a guy at or near the top of every draft board because of that potential — look at the play he got injured on, a 6’11” guy fast enough to run the floor and make a chase-down block.
Noel has measured 6’11” with a 7’4” wingspan, he’s a strong defensive player and shot blocker because he is quick of foot for someone with his length. He’s raw on offense, he lacks the natural instincts of a scorer, but that is something that can be worked on — he’s not going to be an elite offensive player at the NBA level but he can be solid in a few years.
And if his knee is going to be fine in a few years, he’ll still get drafted really high. Could the injury knock him out of the top spot? Maybe. But look at the need for shot blocking, defensive big men who can own the paint in the NBA even if their offensive game is limited — Tyson Chandler is an All-Star and a gold medalist.
If Noel can make a full recovery from this, he’s still going to go very high in the draft.