In addition to the fact that he's a big man coming off of knee surgery (Greg Oden asks, "what could go wrong?"), Noel lacks the necessary strength and bulk to contend with the elite big men in the NBA. Additionally, he's not likely to be ready for any action until Christmas, per SI NBA:
Report: UK's Noel expects to return by Christmas on.si.com/13pAi6F— SI NBA (@si_nba) May 16, 2013
Even if he stays healthy throughout his career, Noel will likely struggle to play with consistency—especially on offense in the low post—for the first couple of seasons as he builds up strength and works on his footwork.
So, if Noel isn't going to win the ROY award, who will?
Here are a few players with an excellent chance to blow the hinges off their first year in the NBA.
Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
When you look at this young man and his incredible, natural basketball talent, one word comes to mind: upside.
He's already good enough to step into an NBA starting lineup and produce at a high level, but given his athleticism, length and natural shooting abilities, it's clear his best days are ahead of him.
Some have compared McLemore to a young Ray Allen, and it's a comparison he agrees with, according to Jonathon Givony of Draft Express:
Ben McLemore DX NBA Combine Interview: “I think that’s a great comparison, me and Ray Allen.”youtu.be/Qddd80N1i3U— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 16, 2013
His athleticism, length and speed allow McLemore to make plays inside the paint, and he's one of the best pure shooters to come into the NBA in the past few years. He hit on nearly half his field-goal attempts last year and converted 42 percent of his three-point attempts.
Combined with McLemore's ability to defend on the perimeter, it's no surprise that some have suggested he could be selected No. 1 over Noel. Even if he isn't, he has a strong chance to be the most productive rookie next season.
Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Burke is a do-it-all point guard who's likely going to get a unique opportunity to become the face of an NBA franchise. He's also going to have his hands on the wheel of an NBA offense as a rookie.
Burke is a strong leader who excels on and off the court. He can hit the outside shot with consistency (38.4 percent last year), is adept at penetrating into the paint where he can finish strong or find his teammates for open shots.
Some have questioned whether or not Burke's size (or lack thereof) will negatively impact his NBA career. According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, he measured in at 6' 1.25" at the combine with shoes on:
Official Combine measurements have been releaased. Trey Burke was 6-1 1/4 in shoes, as he told reporters on Thurs.— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) May 17, 2013
He's bigger than Ty Lawson and almost identical to Mike Conley—both of whom have managed to successfully transition to the NBA game.
Given the fact that Burke will likely be a key player for his new team as an offensive leader, it shouldn't be a shock if he ends up winning the ROY award next season.
Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
One of the hardest workers in all of college basketball the past few years, Oladipo discovered his shooting stroke this past season at Indiana.
After struggling with his shot in his first two years, Oladipo converted nearly 60 percent of all field-goal attempts and made 44.1 percent of his three-point attempts.
When you factor in his prowess on the defensive end of the court and his ability to clean up the glass from his guard spot, it's clear Oladipo is the most complete 2-guard heading to the NBA in 2013.
Therefore, it's no surprise to hear that Oladipo is being considered by some NBA scouts to be a top-five pick heading into the draft, per Jeff Rabjohns of Peegs.com:
Based on what I'm hearing from NBA scouts at this point, I'd be very surprised if Victor Oladipo (@vicicanfly4iu) isn't a top 5 NBA pick.— Jeff Rabjohns (@JeffRabjohns) May 21, 2013
If Oladipo's improved field-goal percentage from last year carries over into the 2013-2014 NBA season, he has the overall game to become an elite player early in his career and the NBA's ROY next year.
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