The dream of seeing an NBA squad made up entirely of Kentucky players may have to wait a little longer, according to SheridanHoops.com. Allegedly, both the New Orleans
Hornets Pelicans and the Orlando Magic, top-, er… bottom-five teams for this year’s draft lottery would trade the rights to the first pick, and pass on drafting Nerlens Noel. According to the site:
Sources around the NBA have told SheridanHoops that if the Orlando Magic or New Orleans Hornets win the lottery, they both would be strongly inclined to trade the pick to whichever fellow lottery team wants to pay the most for the right to draft Nerlens Noel.
The caveat for Orlando is that it does not want to lose out on Ben McLemore of Kansas, whom it covets the most, or Trey Burke/Victor Oladipo as a fallback. And it’s not that the Magic don’t like Noel. Rather, they don’t need him, already in possession of a top-tier NBA center on a rookie contract in two-year veteran Nikola Vucevic. Same with the Hornets and Anthony Davis.
The 2013 NBA draft lacks elite prospects of years past such as Davis, Kyrie Irving or Blake Griffin, clear top picks regardless of who won the lottery. This year, Noel is the player atop the majority of draft boards but not quite on the same level as those other sure things.
Before anyone gets upset (besides me, a little bit), let’s look at why this is not a knock against Noel by either of these teams.
While probably no squad would question his motor or defensive abilities, sometimes there’s a type of player that you just don’t need, regardless of what he can do on the court. The Pelicans have a pretty obvious, and legitimate, reason to try to shop their potential “Nerlens Pick”: Anthony Davis. There are a lot of differences in the games between Davis and Noel, but there are even more similarities. Both guys are athletic, long, defensive-minded big men that can block a ton of shots. Davis is better offensively, and Noel is more active on D (picking up steals, rebounds, etc.), but you can’t blame the Pelicans for not wanting to double up on one position when they have Austin Rivers to replace.
And that’s too bad, really, because how cool would it be to see Nerlens in N’awlins? Noel in NOLA? The headlines and marketing ploys basically write themselves.
And if Doron Lamb wanted to team up with Nerlens in Orlando, well, he’s probably out of luck, too. The NBA’s worst team, with the best chance at landing the top pick, also have their center of the future in the aforementioned Nikola Vucevic, who averaged 13 points and 12 rebounds this season.
Look for the Cavs to be willing to move up a couple of spots to draft Nerlens in order to help themselves inside, where they are sorely lacking. Just don’t expect the Pelicans or the Magic to pick him up, should they win the upcoming lottery.
And, because it’s Friday and you and I both want some YouTube-age, let’s show them what they’re missing:
The silver lining? Noel could still end up in Charlotte with MKG, making the Bobcats the early favorite for “Most Hustle” in next year’s awards season.