No team in the nation churns out more NBA prospects than the Kentucky Wildcats. It is no coincidence that John Calipari lands top prospect after top prospect and only a year later a slew of them go in the lottery. It is as if Calipari does what we know everyone should–prepping kids for jobs they actually want to do will help you recruit them to a particular university.
Not every player that has come out of a Calipari led program has prospered in the league. Some, not many mind you, have become end of the rotation role players or have found the unemployment line sooner than anyone could have expected. Most, however, have found a nice niche in the league and some have even become stars for their organization.
Nobody thinks Nerlens Noel is going to be anything but a starter in the NBA. Despite tearing one of his knees to shreds, Noel is still a heavy favorite to go number one overall in this year’s NBA Draft.
An easy, lazy comparison is to a player he replaced at Kentucky, Anthony Davis. To be fair, though, Davis’ offensive game is leaps and bounds better than what Noel brings to the table. The similarity between the two is on the defensive side of the ball and even at that, Davis was a much more polished and proven commodity.
That is not to say that Noel won’t end up improving his low-post game or become a better overall offensive player. But we need to be honest, nothing in his game currently screams that he will ever be an 18 points or more per game type of guy. Even with that going against him, Noel still brings enough on the defensive end to warrant a high selection.
Big guys don’t grow on trees. That is why every year players with less natural talent than Noel go early in the draft. It is a combination of general managers hoping that a big’s potential will eventually reach a level where the player is more than just a giant, but a double-double factory.
The best case scenario for Noel is unlikely. I doubt that he will ever become a prolific scorer, but that is okay. His worst case scenario (outside of injuries ruining him) is that of a very, very strong defensive player. That alone would make him an important part of any NBA franchise.
Noel clearly has potential left in him and if you were to couple that with his already perceived defensive awesomeness, then you have a power forward or center you can stick in your lineup for a decade. The ceiling for Noel might not be as high as it is for Davis, but his floor is nowhere near being a bust.
More often than not it is okay to be just okay in some areas if you excel in one. Noel excels in one area enough (defense) to make him a legit NBA starter going forward. Hopefully injuries will stay away from the talented pogo-stick.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone