Over the past week, Nerlens Noel has slowly been losing his grasp on the number one pick. Bill Simmons and ESPN’s Ryen Russillo discussed Nerlens’ draft stock on the latest B.S. Report podcast. Here are the three “red flags” they found around our beloved flat top feller:
Red flag #1: Knee surgery and growth plate problems in high school
This one’s obvious. As we all remember far too well, Nerlens tore his ACL against Florida back in February, has since had surgery and according to his doctors, is well ahead of schedule in his rehab. Yet, teams are hesitant about taking him with the first pick because he’ll be out until at least Christmas, and according to some NBA medical experts, even longer.
Red flag #2: Who is he?
Another red flag they found was that Nerlens doesn’t really have an “NBA doppleganger” to compare his game to. That’s partly due to the fact that he only played for about 2/3 of the season before he got injured, and his offense is still developing. Simmons and Russillo mentioned Tyson Chandler and Theo Ratliff as potential “dopplegangers.” Also of concern is Nerlens’ slight frame, which dipped as low as 206 after his surgery. While it’s reportedly back up to 218, those legs are still very, very skinny.
Red flag #3: Handlers
The major red flag concerning Nerlens may be the people he’s surrounding himself with. Simmons and Russillo discussed Nerlens’ “handlers,” and how they are making things difficult for teams to get information about him. Apparently, it is very hard to get in touch with Noel, who just hired agents on Thursday. Russillo says that Worldwide Wes AND Lebron James’ agent Rich Paul tried to get in touch with Nerlens, but Nerlens’ crew “blew them off.” They also blew off one agent six times in a row before finally meeting with him. Russillo calls the entourage “epic bad news men”:
“I guess his handlers are looking for something here. They have him, I don’t know if it’s brainwashed or scared, but they’ve attached themselves to him. Maybe they don’t even want him signed with an agent and tehy’re just trying to figure out the best deal for themselves. So you factor in that he’s hurt, he had this growth plate thing that happened to him when he was a sophomore in high school and he’s not exactly…you know, this isn’t Anthony Davis. In Anthony Davis, you saw a wide set of skills. I’m wondering if he’ll even go #1 now. I heard Washington say if he’s on the board at #3 that they won’t even take him. So, I imagine this stuff will get out more and more, because these agents are unbelievably frustrated. …It’s kind of sad, because I don’t really think it’s even on Noel. So many times we hear about these guys that are involved in the process that make it far more difficult for the player to pursue his career when they’re supposed to be the ones that are helping him when they’re really just helping themselves.”
To hear these comments about a player we’ve come to love so much on AND off the court is incredibly discouraging. Anyone who has spent time with Nerlens will testify that he’s a class act who is mature beyond his years. However, that can’t always be said about the people the often attach themselves to future NBA stars. Hopefully there’s still time to make things right before next week’s draft, starting with his interview in Cleveland on Thursday.
Listen to Simmons and Russillo talk about Nerlens near the 1:00:00 mark.