Nerlens Noel: Expect Kentucky Center to Be Top Pick in 2013 NBA Draft

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Nerlens Noel: Expect Kentucky Center to Be Top Pick in 2013 NBA Draft
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Kentucky center Nerlens Noel has declared for the 2013 NBA draft, according to ESPN.

Expect the top prospect in the class to be selected No. 1 overall on June 27.

We saw how much a prospect's potential plays into an NBA team's draft-day decisions in 2011 when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected point guard Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 overall pick, despite Irving playing in just 11 games at Duke due to a toe injury. 

Irving has gone on to be one of the league's brightest young stars, averaging 22.5 points, 5.8 assists and 1.5 steals this season while shooting 45 percent from the floor, 40 percent from long range and 86 percent from the free-throw line.

Noel, who suffered a torn ACL in February, has that kind of eye-popping potential. He's no Anthony Davis, but he does have the ability to be an elite rebounder and shot-blocker at the next level if he continues to grow while adding strength.

To give you an idea of Noel's potential, he averaged 4.4 blocks and 9.5 rebounds at Kentucky as a freshman (hence the Anthony Davis comparisons). That included swatting 12 shots against Ole Miss on Jan. 29 and grabbing 16 rebounds against Baylor on Dec. 1.

Noel also averaged 2.1 steals during the 2012-13 campaign, displaying his 7'4" wingspan and quick hands.

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But it's not just Noel's potential, which outshines any prospect in the class. There's also the fact that—in a relatively weak draft class—you would have to be a fool to pass up on a prospect who has the potential to be an All-Star in the NBA.

Davis averaged 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals while shooting 52 percent in 64 games this season with the New Orleans Hornets. You can't expect Noel to put up those numbers in his first season, but it wouldn't be a surprise if he put up similar numbers.

Injury concerns or no injury concerns, there is no way you pass on the potential of Noel in the 2013 NBA draft. 

After all, imagine if the Cavaliers had gone with Derrick Williams in 2011 instead of Irving.

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