2013 NBA Draft: 5 Reasons Why Cleveland Cavaliers Should Take Nerlens Noel at No. 1
Cleveland Cavailers Should Make Nerlens Noel No. 1 Overall Pick
For the second time in the last three seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers have the No. 1 pick of the NBA draft. When they held the pick in 2011, the choice was pretty much a no-brainer. Everybody said that Kyrie Irving was no doubt the best player in that draft. The Cavs made the easy decision and it worked out well for them, as Irving has become arguably the best point guard that the NBA has to offer. This draft is a little different. There is no sure-fire No. 1 pick. The way that I look at it, there are three different guys that are options for the Cavs when they kick off the draft on Thursday, June 27.
First, there is Ben McLemore, the one-and-done two-guard from Kansas. In his only season as a Jayhawk, McLemore averaged 15.9 points per game. He is a good outside shooter and is very good at creating his own shot. While he is by no means elite on defense, he is a solid perimeter defender. I do like McLemore, but I do not think he is the right guy for Cleveland, for reasons I will get in to later.
Next, we have Otto Porter Jr., a 6-8 forward from Georgetown. Last season with the Hoyas, Porter averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He is a very fluid offensive player that does a good job creating his own shot. He is a solid outside shooter, but some do worry that he may not have the range for the NBA level. Defensively, Porter uses his 7-1 wingspan very well on the perimeter and in the post. While Porter is not a bad athlete, he is by no means elite athletically. His lack of speed and jumping ability hurts him at times. I wonder if he has the pure athleticism to be a star at the next level. I think Porter will be a solid pro, I just want more star potential with the first pick.
Finally, there is Nerlens Noel, the one-and-done big man from the University of Kentucky, and my choice as the number one pick in the draft. Noel is an elite defender using his 7-4 wingspan to routinely swat away shots and steal passes. While his offensive game falls far behind his defense, I see some promise from him when his team has the ball. Noel is coming off a torn ACL injury that held him out for more than half of his only season at Kentucky. Some worry how and when he will come back from that injury. With his age (19) and the success rate that athletes come back from knee injuries now, I am not overly worried about his injury.
When it comes down to it, I think Noel is the best prospect that this draft has to offer and the Cavaliers should not hesitate to select him. Here are five reasons why.
Best Pure Athlete in the Draft
Very simply, Noel is the best player in the 2013 draft. He has the most upside and because of how dominating he is defensively, there is not much downside. His elite athleticism helps him routinely swat away shots, as you can tell by his astounding 4.4 blocks per game at Kentucky.
His Offensive Game has Potential
It is obvious that Noel's offensive game is far behind his defense. He struggles in the post and whenever he has to create his own shot. That being said, he is the best player in this draft at finishing around the rim, using an array of dunks and layups with both hands. I think if he has a teammate that can set him up well (Kyrie Irving), Noel's offensive game will evolve rapidly.
Cavaliers Already Have a Good Backcourt
I see McLemore as the next best prospect in this draft, but there is simply not room for him in the Cleveland backcourt. With Irving and Dion Waiters, the Cavs have one of the best young guard combos in the league. Irving has averaged 20.6 points and 5.7 assists per game in his first two years in Cleveland. Irving was named the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year and was an All Star in 2013. Waiters, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, scored 14.7 points per game in his rookie season and played great perimeter defense. He showed great promise this year and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
Noel is an Elite Defender
Noel is every bit as good defensively as last year's number one pick out of Kentucky, Anthony Davis. Noel had 4.4 blocks, 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game during his season at Kentucky, compared to Davis' 4.7 blocks, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals in his only season for the Wildcats. As you can tell, there was not much difference statistically between the two. Noel may need to add some weight because he might get thrown around at times in the post, but I believe his body has room to grow without losing his athleticism. One thing to remember, this guy is only 19 years old, he still has time to get bigger.
Could Help the Return of LeBron James
I realize that this is a little ridiculous, but it makes sense to me. Many people have speculated that LeBron James will opt out of his contract after the 2014 season and make a return to Cleveland. That may seem unlikely, but hear me out. I think a core of Irving, Waiters and Noel is a very good starting point. If Cleveland selects Noel and he reaches his potential the way Irving has, I think that is a very intriguing situation for LeBron to come into. Add James to that already impressive young core and you probably have the best team in the NBA.