Jun 16, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
WASHINGTON — When it comes to Nerlens Noel, the simplest pre-NBA draft storylines involve the following: the distinctive hair, his injured knee and – based on planned team meetings – whether the University of Kentucky center will be selected one, two or three.
Noel’s high-fade flattop, inspired by Will Smith’s iconic 1990’s look, won’t influence any kind of draft stock rise or fall. Actually, the 7-foot shot blocker who ran the court with a guard’s grace before suffering a torn left ACL in February has remained the presumptive front-runner for the first pick even after suffering a torn left ACL in February.
Of course, as anybody that has followed this year’s draft knows, there is little certain about the high-end prospects or how the top selections will unfold on June 27.
Those advising Noel apparently have the sense that the player who led Division I with 4.4 blocks per game won’t have a long wait in the green room. Only the teams owning the first three picks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards, have or will meet with Noel before the draft. Though still unable to work out, Noel spent Friday and Saturday in the Nation’s Capital being acquainted with Wizards team officials.
“It’s a possibility,” Noel said of landing in Washington before accurately describing the current overall draft board. “Anything can happen.”
Noel, 19, previously visited with the Magic and he has meeting scheduled for June 20 in Cleveland. The teams obviously want a closer look at his knee, which he favored slightly walking the halls of the Verizon Center.
“I’m feeling great. It’s really coming along,” said Noel, who sported a blue Wizards t-shirt when speaking with a contingent of media members outside the team’s locker room on Saturday morning.
How great any of the top three teams, including the playoff-pushing Wizards, would feel about drafting a player unlikely to contribute much as a rookie is a question. Noel said current medical projections have him sidelined until possibly December.
That timeframe also gives the Boston native opportunity to pack on the pounds, a sincere goal especially after weighing a mere 206 pounds at last month’s combine. Noel, who claims a playing weight of 215 at Kentucky, said he’s now 218 and plans on being in the 225-230 range whenever he makes his debut.
The Wizards, owners of not only the third pick but expectations for a playoff appearance next season after a five-year drought, also met with Anthony Bennett from UNLV and Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. this week. They won’t be the last of the possible top-3 selections.
Noel would initially serve as a rim-protecting apprentice to Emeka Okafor, who is entering the final year of his contract, while providing the franchise another building block with the rising backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
With limited free agent salary cap available and a roster that tied for last in scoring this past season, the Wizards ideally add more offense through the draft. That’s not Noel’s strength; he shot only 53 percent from the free throw line at Kentucky with most of his offense coming on dunks and offensive rebounds. However, his board work and underrated passing skills can help with the point producing.
Scoring challenged or not, the Wizards might not be able to pass on Noel, assuming he’s available. That’s because his defensive future appears significant, assuming he checks out physically.
As for the flattop, it’s not about to exit as Noel enters the league.
“It’s special to me,” Noel said. “Growing up, I watched Fresh Prince of Bel Air every night before I went to bed, so I’m gonna keep it.”
At least that much is certain.
May 5, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT
Wall suffered a wrist injury and Beal suffered an ankle injury in Washington’s Game 1 win.
May 5, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
Thomas cost the Knicks $11.6 million following a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2007, so putting him in charge of a women’s team seems like an odd choice.
Blake Griffin put up historically-great numbers in Clippers’ last two victories over Rockets and Spurs
May 5, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Griffin became the first player to notch back-to-back playoff triple-doubles since …
May 5, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
San Antonio needs to find ways to create cap space this summer.
May 5, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
The chatter continues, but what if Chicago makes it to the Finals?
May 5, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Kyrie finished with a game-high 30 points, and these were two of his most difficult shots.
May 5, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT
LeBron was one assist shy of a triple-double, but shot just 9-of-22 and committed 6 turnovers in Cleveland’s loss.
May 5, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT
Stonecutter’s Credo continues to be popular in NBA circles.
May 5, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
The Grizzlies need Mike Conley’s return to have a realistic shot.
May 5, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Mike Budenholzer needs to lean on his starters more.
May 5, 2015, 1:45 AM EDT
The Rockets did not have an answer for him.
May 5, 2015, 1:22 AM EDT
“There are no excuses, they played better than we did.” —Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale
May 5, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
But the Knicks will have the higher pick.
May 5, 2015, 12:02 AM EDT
That one worked out OK.
May 4, 2015, 11:19 PM EDT
Popovich still hates the rule.
May 4, 2015, 9:43 PM EDT
Derrick Rose’s 25 points led the way for Chicago.
May 4, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
May 4, 2015, 8:11 PM EDT
Doc Rivers says Paul will not play.
May 4, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
Curry thanked basically everyone. I mean everyone.
May 4, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
Nobody thinks Gasol is leaving Memphis anyway.
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