Assuming he goes number one overall, which most projections indicate he will, which team would you like to see Nerlens get drafted to this summer? Are you looking for a team that has the DNA to be competitive down the line? Or are you wanting him to end up with former UK stars so you can have that matching jersey set? Right now, the odds for the top five participants of the Noel Sweepstakes are something like this:
2) Magic-22.4% (not sure why they’re .1% lower than the Bobcats, but that’s what ESPN’s Lottery Mock Draft indicates)
With so many UK players drafted high in recent years, there is no shortage of teams in the lottery with UK players. Even in the top five lottery teams, you have four guys that were just drafted last year. If you’re looking for Nerlens to end up on a team where he can rejoin (or, technically, join for the first time) his fellow Wildcats, then you’re probably pulling for Charlotte or New Orleans to get lucky on Lottery night. Should either of those teams get called first, you’ll have the chance to add another NBA jersey to your repertoire. Or start an NBA jersey repertoire. Whatever.
But are those the best competitive choices for Nerlens? If you want to see him win, and win early, he might be better off somewhere else. For all that I made fun of Dan Gilbert yesterday, the Cavs have some pretty good pieces, and Noel would be a great fit in Cleveland, where they’re missing an elite defender around the rim. He’ll be able to play with a young, superstar point guard in Kyrie Irving (as opposed to “General” Greivis Vasquez in New Orleans), AND he’ll push Tyler Zeller further down the depth chart. And if there’s one thing I like almost as much as seeing UK guys get playing time, it’s seeing Zellers lose it. But the scorers are there in Cleveland, with Irving and Dion Waiters, and the young talent is really only going to get better.
Then you have the Magic and the Suns. The Suns’ roster is full of draft busts, with their biggest names being Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson. When Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat lead your team in literally every statistical category, you know you have some reworking to do. Nerlens could be the first step in the right direction in Phoenix, but it wouldn’t be fun for him. And in Orlando, you have the newly acquired Doron Lamb, who is averaging right at 12 minutes per game with the Magic. As far as young talent goes, though, they’re not in as great a position as Cleveland is, although Tobias Harris has really started to turn it up. Orlando is probably that mix between the two groups here: Nerlens would get a little PT with a former Cat, and could help a team struggling to find an identity.
So, of the top five, which NBA team do you think is the best fit for Nerlens? Which team would you like to see him on? Personally, my money’s on the Cavs. They have a lot of promise going forward, it’d be relatively easy for Wildcat fans to go see him in Cleveland, and he is just the right fit for that team; they’d really appreciate having him. New Orleans, on the other hand, might look to shop him, if they even draft him at all. Nobody needs the second coming of Anthony Davis when you’ve got… Anthony Davis.
There are plenty of good options, and we of course wish Nerlens the best come draft night. Let the speculation begin.