The NBA Draft is a wide open race when it comes to who will be the No. 1 overall pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers when they go on the clock this year. Unlike years past, there isn’t a clear cut prospect that stands out above the rest of the field, as Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving did the past two seasons. Right now most of the talk is centering on Kentucky center Nerlens Noel but the Cleveland Cavaliers are wisely avoiding locking him in as the pick and he may end up falling out of the top slot so many have him pegged in.
For starters, Noel isn’t a bad prospect, he’s just not the best prospect in the draft. Noel won’t even be ready for the start of the season but that’s not the worst thing about the prospects of taking him first overall. While no one wants to dig deep into it, Noel’s knee may not be the same it was in college and that’s something that could derail him with however drafts him.
Remember when people said Greg Oden’s knees would heal after the Blazers drafted him?
Now, this is significantly different as Oden already had chronic knee problems while Noel simply tore his ACL in an age of medical science where that’s no longer a career altering injury. But usually we use that example with guys already in established positions — which Noel is not.
Sam Bowie keeps coming to mind and the connection goes deeper than the fact they both played at Kentucky and were standout prospects in college.
But beyond the knee issue, Noel simply isn’t the best fit for the Cavaliers system at the moment and they won’t be adjusting it to fit him in. Yes, he’s an extremely talented big that can come in and be a major defensive factor but the Cav’s do not need another offensively challenged player in their frontcourt and they don’t need to be spending No. 1 picks on them.
What the Cavaliers need is a true small forward to fill out their young starting roster and that appears to be Georgetown’s Otto Porter. There’s already speculation growing that Porter is under consideration for the top pick and it’s for good reason.
However, that being said, there are scenarios where the Cav’s could take Noel No. 1 but it all centers on how they feel about Anderson Varejao. If the Cav’s are ready to part ways with him or they feel he’s a liability after the health issues he’s had, that opens up the possibility of Noel landing with Cleveland. But at that point, the Cav’s are trading a big with a blood clot in his lung for a big coming off of major ACL surgery.
Noel is being mocked as the No. 1 pick for good reason — he’s an amazing prospect and deserves to be one of the top players taken off the board in the draft. He just seem to fit the bill as the first guy off the board and while the Cav’s would be getting a great prospect if they take him, they won’t be getting the right one.