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Nerlens Noel says he hopes to be able to play around Christmas

May 16, 2013, 5:02 PM EDT

Marshall v Kentucky Getty Images

Fans of whichever team wins the lottery next week may have to wait until Christmas to unwrap their present.

Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel is the leading candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. Yes, the same Noel who blew out his ACL last season. He was at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago Thursday, getting measured and meeting with teams but not working out.

When does he think he’ll be able to play? (Via the official reporter)

Noel injured his knee in February, so Christmas is around 10 months. Whatever team drafts him will not rush him back, so it could be longer.

Where Noel goes really depends on who wins the lottery. Does that team need size up front, or do they need a wing player and like Ben McLemore. How does the team that win grade those guys out? That said, he’s a top three lock.

If you’re wondering why a guy who blew out his ACL and is about to miss training camp is a possible No. 1 pick the answer is simple: It’s not about this season. It’s nice when you get a Damian Lillard to contribute as a rookie, but what really matters is how good he is three years from now. And Noel is a very athletic guy who measured nearly 7’0” in shoes, who can score and run the floor. There is a lot of potential in him. In a draft where there are no great players, teams will bet with the top picks on the guys with the highest ceilings. The most upside, if you will.

And that is Noel.

  1. paulhargis53 - May 16, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Remember when the top players in the draft were expected to contribute right away? Now draft picks are for 3 years down the road?! Kids should have to spend 2 years in college. Their bodies aren’t ready and they need maturity, the fundamentals aren’t there either.

    I don’t wanna here about a kid getting offered a jib by a major corporation. Its apples and oranges and doesn’t apply here.
    Drafting on potential, ridiculous.

  2. lew24 - May 16, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    I think Derrick Rose is hoping to play by Christmas too?

    • zacksdad - May 16, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      Christmas of what year?

      • patfic15 - May 16, 2013 at 8:15 PM

        Dear Santa,
        Please bring me some muscke memory.
        Xoxo D Rose

  3. bifford - May 17, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    Noel is great pick for a team looking to double down for Wiggins next year.

  4. egickvengeance7x - May 17, 2013 at 12:15 AM

    Reblogged this on egickvengeance and commented:
    Nerlens Noel says he hopes to be able to play around Christmas

  5. glink123 - May 17, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Derrick Rose. Nearly 600 days between games placed in the NBA (18 months). He’s done. $355 million, guaranteed money, to play 4 seasons. Comes to about $90 million per year, or roughly $1 million per game, or $500,000 per hour. Biggest heist in the history of mankind.

  6. glink123 - May 17, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Actually, I forgot about the $22.5 million in salary he was paid for his rookie contract, plus early endorsements. Better make that $400 million, for 4 years played. $100 million per year.

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