Nerlens Noel, No. 2 (Mock Draft)

by May 30, 2013

by Dave Zirin / @EdgeofSports

OK. So the Cavs are obviously going to take Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, a 7-foot teenager with hops so quick, you think he has steel coils growing from the soles of his feet. That means the Orlando Magic should probably take…Excuse me?

The Cavs took Otto Porter? Am I being “punked?” Didn’t they cancel that show? Wait…you’re serious? Did weed get legalized in Ohio and no one told me? Is Jim Paxson running their Draft again? Is Otto Porter holding members of Dan Gilbert’s family hostage and sending ransom notes in a Comic Sans font? The city of Cleveland hasn’t had a sports dynasty since Otto Graham quarterbacked the Browns in the 1950s, so maybe they are just really into Ottos. Fine. Please by all means take Otto Porter.

Now allow me to stop chuckling long enough to make my team’s selection.

With the second pick in the 2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Orlando Magic select…

Nerlens Noel from Kentucky.

We in the Magic organization, fully expect Mr. Noel to join Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard in the storied tradition of great Magic centers who we develop and then watch leave.

In Noel, we have the closest thing in this Draft to an “etch it in stone” future All-Star. He’s a 19-year-old 7-footer who was the consensus No. 1 player in the country coming out of high school. After being lusted after by every college coach on earth, Noel landed in that pro-hoops way station otherwise known as the University of Kentucky.

Of course Noel only played 24 games before tearing the ACL in his left knee, but that didn’t stop him from garnering All-SEC honors as well as winning SEC Freshman of the Year, despite an overall down year for Calipari’s kids in Lexington. Noel averaged 11 points, 10 boards, and over 4 blocks a game but even more importantly showed charisma, motor and quick hops which simply cannot be taught. If Dennis Rodman and Amar’e Stoudemire in their primes were genetically spliced, the product might be Nerlens Noel.

Yes, that torn ACL needs to be assessed extremely carefully. Yes, his listed weight of 206 pounds—a good 70 pounds lighter than LeBron James—needs to change. But frankly, given how middling the overall character of this Draft is, given Noel’s skyscraping potential, and given how utterly mighty next year’s Draft will most certainly be, those are all easy risks. I’d rather risk an ACL rehab and need to eat more carbs, than risk that Trey Burke will develop into a 6-foot All-Star or Ben McLemore will develop a pulse.

We on the Magic will take him in a heartbeat, sit him as long as need be, and if that increases our chances in the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes, well then gee whiz, that’s just a sacrifice we are all too willing to make. The organization already has perhaps the game’s best teaching assistant coach in former Maryland All-American LaRon Profit who worked wonders with 22-year-old center Nikola Vucevic, who averaged 13 points and 12 boards last year. Pair Vucevic up with Noel and future perennial All-Star Tobias Harris, and we have a team that will compete for Championships in the next decade even if we don’t win the Wiggins sweepstakes.

And seriously: The only way Otto Porter should ever be in front of Nerlens Noel is in a reverse dictionary.

2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft
Pick Team Player Pick Team Player
1 Cavs Otto Porter 16 Celtics
2 Magic Nerlens Noel 17 Hawks
3 Wizards 18 Hawks
4 Bobcats 19 Cavs
5 Suns 20 Bulls
6 Pelicans 21 Jazz
7 Kings 22 Nets
8 Pistons 23 Pacers
9 TWolves 24 Knicks
10 Blazers 25 TWolves
11 Sixers 26 Clippers
12 Thunder 27 Nuggets
13 Mavs 28 Spurs
14 Jazz 29 Thunder
15 Bucks 30 Suns