For months conventional wisdom has been that Kentucky center Nerlens Noel would be the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Well, from everything we’re hearing the Cleveland Cavaliers – who own the No. 1 pick – are rapidly falling out of love with Noel.
The Cavs will have Noel in for a visit on June 20 and at that point he’ll have to convince the team that he’s on track to be healthy soon. Cleveland could draft him on potential alone, but he’s recovering from a terrible ACL tear in his left knee and no one really knows what he’ll be able to do when he gets back.
The 19-year-old seven-footer has near unlimited potential, particularly on the defensive end, but other players have reportedly impressed the Cavs enough that Noel’s hold on the top spot in the draft is tenuous at best.
Indiana guard Victor Oladipo has been lighting it up in workouts across the country, UNLV forward Anthony Bennett has also been impressive, while Georgetown forward Otto Porter may be the draft’s best all-around player. Maryland center Alex Len is also rocketing up draft boards despite not being able to work out thanks to a stress fracture in his ankle.
World-renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews is reportedly pleased with Noel’s rehab. But even with a relatively fast turnaround after surgery, Noel may not be ready to play until early in 2014. When you couple that with the fact that he is an incredibly raw prospect, it’s understandable why the Cavs could look elsewhere.
Oladipo is probably a long-shot to go No. 1, especially after the Cavs took shooting guard Dion Waiters with the fourth pick in last year’s draft. Porter seems like the logical fit, while Len presents an intriguing option.
Len is a legit seven-footer is outstanding all-around skill, but he only averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season. Still, he has better size and is more polished than Noel at this point. Most experts consider Len to be a safer alternative to Noel.