Though Georgetown’s Otto Porter and Maryland’s Alex Len are in the mix, the Cleveland Cavaliers are believed to have Kentucky center Nerlens Noel at the top of their board heading in to the June 27 NBA Draft. ESPN’s Chad Ford reports that Noel is considered the leader in the clubhouse due to a myriad of reasons.
“Cavs general manager Chris Grant and his staff spent more time than anyone watching Noel this season, according to Kentucky head coach John Calipari,” writes Ford. ”In fact, Grant recommended the surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, that Noel used for his ACL surgery. The Cavs also lean heavily on advanced metrics, and those numbers, regardless of the system, strongly favor Noel.”
The items working against Noel, per Ford, are the player’s current listed weight (206 lbs.), his recent ACL surgery, and the recent statements made by team owner Dan Gilbert about not wanting to be in the lottery after the impending seasons.
“The weight issue is quickly becoming a non-issue,” says Ford. ”Noel weighed in at 206 pounds at the draft combine, creating a bit of a furor. Calipari told me that Dr. Andrews actually recommended Noel lose weight to help speed up the ACL recovery. Calipari said Noel weighed 222 pounds when he was injured. Noel told me in Chicago the number was actually 228.”
If the 2013-14 postseason does in fact become the overriding priority, there is a growing suspicion that Grant would be forced to move the pick for NBA-ready talent who can help the team immediately upon acquisition.