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NBA Draft Profile: Nerlens Noel

NERLENS NOEL

6-11, 225 lbs.

School: Kentucky

Class: Freshman

AL.com/Julie Bennett

AL.com/Julie Bennett

STRENGTHS: Noel may be a better shot blocker than last year’s Kentucky freshman sensation, Anthony Davis. He anticipates shots very well, and has a quick second and third jump so it’s hard to pump fake your way past him down low. He’s also got a long reach and the leaping ability to completely change shots around the basket. Noel is an incredible leaper with boundless athleticism. At 6-11, he runs like a guard and often plays more like a 3 than a 4 or 5. He’s a great defender who can anticipate passing lanes and come up with steals, and has the ball handling ability and court vision to lead a fast break. Of course, he’s not bad finishing one either. Noel is so athletic that you can see him playing the 3 on offense, and that could create matchup nightmares at the next level. His potential is sky-high.

WEAKNESSES: He’s only 225 pounds, so he’s likely going to need to add muscle if he wants to be an NBA 5. The dilemma for an NBA G.M. will be whether or not to turn him into a true big man, or to let him play the small forward and create matchup problems on the offensive end. The problem is, he’s not fully developed on offense and his post game needs a lot of work. He’s very raw and awkward with his back to the basket. On defense, he is most valuable in the paint because of his shot blocking prowess. But he will need to bulk up if he wants to succeed as a true 4 or 5. The season-ending injury is troublesome, and scouts may worry that he won’t come back as explosive as he was.

BOTTOM LINE: Noel is an athletic marvel who can create plenty of matchup problems and has a chance to become an elite defensive player at the next level. His post game is raw, but he’s athletic enough to learn how to do anything on the basketball floor. He’s going to need to add muscle in the NBA, especially to be successful in the paint. Still, Noel’s ceiling is sky-high, and he should be the No. 1 pick in the draft come June.

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