Skip to content

Could Nerlens Noel’s injury shake up the NBA draft? Not really.

Feb 13, 2013, 2:01 PM EDT

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 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.

  1. dexterismyhero - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Don’t see this guy as a #1 pick even when healthy. Patrick Young abused him in the post last night. Unless he can put on 30 lbs of pure muscle, he won’t last real long in the NBA. Good luck to him with the injusry and hope it is not very bad.

    • gpatrick15 - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      He’s what, 18? He’ll be fine. Yeah he may not become a superstar, but he has a very high ceiling, and the right coach can get him to play to his maximum potential. And the 30lbs of extra bulk is nonsense, they said the same thing about Durant and many other skinny guys coming out of college.

      • fanofthegame79 - Feb 13, 2013 at 2:15 PM

        This guy is a defensive player as opposed to Durant being an offensive player, so the extra muscle would help Noel. With that said, a better comparision would be Anthony Davis….which could also use more weight when battling below the boards.

    • zblott - Feb 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      I’ve got to agree. Without going too far into his deficiencies on offense, including the offensive glass, his ability to outplay opposing (or his own team’s) big men has absolutely no correlation with UK winning, which is especially disturbing considering how far below expectations they’re performing this year. If a supposedly elite player’s contributions don’t correlate with his club’s success in any way, then what’s he really worth?

  2. euromac55 - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Let’s be fair here and not even think about the Draft until we know if he’s okay. That’s more important right now. Its painful to see kid’s future possibly be compromised in a split second, whether its athletics or something else. .

  3. rmfields - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Hopefully he’s not out too long. Kentucky is already having a down season, and this certainly doesn’t help.

    As for Noel’s NBA future, I can see him being a Marcus Camby-esque style player – big time blocker, top-5 rebounder, and able to put up 11-12 points per game.

  4. elnogo - Feb 13, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    I think he will have to stay in college another yr.

    • Maurice Barksdale - Feb 13, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      After an injury like this, I doubt he plays another college game at all. If and when he makes a full recovery, he’ll more than likely still be a top prospect. So no need to jeopardize that any further by continuing to play college ball and risking another injury.

      • saint1997 - Feb 14, 2013 at 2:52 AM

        true that. I’m pretty sure there was an article on the nbc pro college talk about how bad having to play one year of college is for this very reason

      • Maurice Barksdale - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:36 PM

        The one and done is definitely a risk for the top prospects, as a player Noel would probably be a top five pick whether he played a season in college or not.

  5. sylpkt - Feb 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    If it is an ACL or something that would require a “redshirt” year and he drops, the Thunder could pick him using the Rapter’s pick they got in the Harden trade. They could allow him to recover, bulk up and learn like they’re doing with PJIII & Lamb.

  6. hojo20 - Feb 13, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    This isn’t exactly like if Ewing would’ve tore up his knee in the 1985 season. Noel has a way to go to be NBA ready.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2542)
  2. K. Irving (2217)
  3. A. Davis (1914)
  4. K. Bryant (1600)
  5. L. James (1598)
  1. K. Durant (1471)
  2. A. Aminu (1452)
  3. M. Leonard (1422)
  4. T. Thompson (1375)
  5. A. Jefferson (1252)