Originally written on NBA Draft Blog  |  Last updated 10/20/14
Name:       Nerlens Noel   Age:   19    School: Kentucky Height: 7’0         Weight: 206       Projected Position:  PF/C             2012-13 Stats (24 games): 10.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.6 apg, 4.4 bpg, 1.9 tpg (31.9 minutes per game) 59.0 FG%, 52.9 FT%, 58.3 TS% 10.4 OREB%, 22.3 DREB%, 16.8 TREB%, 13.2 BLK%, 17.4 USG%   SKILLS & ATHLETIC BREAKDOWN Offense Post Play/Footwork Noel’s post-game is still a major work-in-progress. Noel does a good job setting position on the low blocks, getting low with a wide base and setting a target to receive a pass.  However, his lack of strength, especially in his lower body, makes it easy to force him away from the basket. He is at his best when he can get a quick shot or make a quick move past his defender. He has developed a nice jump hook over either shoulder, as well a baseline dropstep which allows him to get to the basket. Noel has some struggles when being defended by longer and/or stronger players. He has the athleticism to still make his move, but he needs to work on the strength to finish. He does do a good job drawing contact when making a move around the basket. Noel has also added some face-up moves, looking to take his man off the dribble, but his ballhandling needs to improve. Noel’s footwork improved up until his injury, but his movements can be stiff, especially when going to his left hand.  Noel understands the pick-and-roll well, and he is capable of catching and finishing around the basket in a variety of ways, including high passes and finishing above the rim. He does need to work on opening up to the ball sooner after the screen. Ballhandling Noel is an average ballhandler for his size, doing a good job minimizing the amount of dribbles he takes, but he needs to work on keeping the ball low and closer to his body.  He is much more comfortable with his right hand than his left, though the left continues to improve. Noel seems to still be getting comfortable with his ballhandling when driving from the perimeter, and he will need to improve significantly to be able to do it at the NBA level.  Shooting Noel has improved his touch around the basket, and he is capable of finishing with either hand and shoot over either shoulder. However, Noel needs to be careful to not push or throw the ball towards the basket, but shoot it. Noel needs to work on being able to hit consistently from the mid-range area. He does a good job getting square to the basket, but his release can be low and with some hesitation, leading him to shoot a lot of line drives at the basket. Passing Skills Noel has very good court vision out of both the high and low posts.  For the most part, he makes strong passes to the perimeter, and on target enough to allow his teammate to get a quick shot off.   Noel does need to work on getting the ball out quicker when doubled in the low post.  Free Throw Shooting As mentioned earlier, Noel needs to work on his shooting in general and that extends to his free throws. He really needs to work on getting his release and follow-through to the point where he isn’t shooting line drives. It becomes more important because of Noel’s ability to draw contact and get to the line.    Defense Post Defense Noel’s technique as a post defender is above-average, but strength issues may cause him some problems at the NBA level.  He positions himself well in the post, and he uses his upper body to put pressure on the offensive player.  He can deny the post when needed, but prefers to on the player’s dominant side, forcing them to go long around him if they want to make a move into the lane.  He needs to work on using his lower body better to anchor his position, and using it to force his man away from the basket.  His footwork is good and he can stay with quicker offensive players as they make their move.   Noel is capable of hedging out on high pick-and-rolls, but he needs to work on being quicker spotting and recovering to his man after he pops out or rolls to the basket, and often he will choose to not hedge and start to drop back towards the lane.  Noel has good defensive awareness, but I would like to see him more vocal and assertive. Perimeter Defense Noel is a very good perimeter defender for his size. He has good foot speed and lateral quickness to defend forwards and centers on the perimeter, but he makes sure to position himself in a way which allows him to prevent getting beat off a first-step while also allowing him to close on perimeter shots.  If he is caught out in space, a decent ballhandler should be able to beat him with a few dribbles, so Noel will need to work on understanding angles so he can recover if beat on the first step.  Help Defense/Shot Blocking This is Noel at his best. He reacts well as a help defender, and covers ground quickly to get in position. His timing and extension are fantastic, and he does a good job going straight up after the shot.   He is very good as a weakside and basket help defender, and he uses his length well enough to alter opposing shots. One area where Noel needs to improve is not falling for ball and head fakes.   Rebounding Noel can be very good on the defensive boards, but with added strength, he can be even better.  He is very good at understanding where he should be positioned for rebounds depending on the shot, and he is quick to get to the ball after the miss.  He does a good job going strong after the miss, extending his arms to get the ball up high, and securing it.  However, Noel needs to do a better job boxing out, especially looking to use his lower body instead of his arms to get position.  Noel can be strong on the offensive glass when he has space to get to the basket, but he needs added strength to battle there regularly. Noel has strong hands and he does a good job controlling the ball once he gets his hands on it. Transition Noel runs the floor well on the offensive break and he is capable of getting out in front of the defense and finishing, or coming in as a secondary option.  He goes strong to the rim and can draw contact, but because his ballhandling isn’t great, it is best to get him the ball around the basket.  Noel is also a strong transition defender, getting back quickly and in position to challenge shots around the basket.   Summary Obviously, Noel’s knee injury is going to set back his rookie season, but any team picking Noel isn’t doing it for instant impact. Noel is still very raw as a player, especially on offense. Where Noel will make his greatest impact is on the defensive side, where his shot-blocking ability and ability to defend well in both the post and on the perimeter can make it tough for teams to score around the basket. Noel’s biggest challenge will be to gain some much needed body strength to handle the rigors of the NBA post game, as well as continuing to develop some sort of consistent offensive options. Still, there is a lot of upside if put in the right system and with the right coaches to develop his skill set. Noel is a hard worker and known to be coachable, but teams will need to have some patience as he develops.   Draft Value:  Early 1st Round – Early Lottery – #1-7 Assuming there won’t be long-term effects from the knee injury, teams will have a ready defensive presence in 2014. There will be some trade off on offense, but a good point guard will find ways to get the ball to Noel in places where he can get quick scores.   Leave your comments below, or email me – ed@nbadraftblog.com Follow me on Twitter - @NBADraftBlog

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