Pros and Cons of Cleveland Cavaliers Taking Nerlens Noel with No. 1 Pick in 2013

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMay 23, 2013

Pros and Cons of Cleveland Cavaliers Taking Nerlens Noel with No. 1 Pick in 2013

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    Though they'll take their time, the Cleveland Cavaliers are essentially on the clock with Nerlens Noel being the likeliest of targets.

    It's really one of the more intriguing draft pickles we're ever going to see.

    The Cavs will weigh the pros and cons of selecting a player who just recently suffered a torn ACL. You'd think the pros should outweigh the cons by a lot when it comes to a No. 1 overall favorite. But not this year. Not with Nerlens Noel, who will be hoping the scale on Chris Grant's desk tilts slightly in his favor.

Pro: Defensive Impact

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    Nerlens Noel's ability to change a game on the defensive side of the ball is what drives his potential as an NBA prospect.

    Before tearing his ACL, Noel was leading the country in shot-blocking at 4.4 a game. His instincts are off the charts, and when you pair them with a 6'11" body and a 7'3.5" wingspan, you get one of the toughest rim security guards to get past.

    Even if Noel's offensive game never comes around, Noel's defensive impact could be worthy of the pick. I'm not sure Tyson Chandler has made an offensive move in three years, yet he's still a pretty effective starting center thanks to his ability to protect the rim. 

    Rim protectors are extremely valuable whether they're contributing offensively or not. Just take a look at what Roy Hibbert has done for Indiana during the playoffs.

Con: Health Uncertainty

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    Taking an injured player at the draft is never ideal. Taking a guy No. 1 overall who's just a few months removed from a torn ACL is flat-out scary.

    Not only is he going to likely miss the first half of the season, but it's impossible to know how he'll recover.

    Nowadays we see guys come back from ACL tears all the time, though we're still waiting on that one kid from Chicago. Everyone's body is different. Everyone's mind is different. Sometimes the road back to recovery can take longer due to mental complications, as opposed to physical ones.

    The injury just adds to the uncertainty surrounding Noel and is a definite con when it comes to taking him first.

Pro: Easy Buckets

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    Nerlens Noel is going to pick up easy buckets, regardless of how limited he is offensively.

    He averaged 10.5 points on 59 percent shooting. He averaged 4.1 field goals made per game, and trust me, none of them came from outside the paint.

    Noel's athleticism, length and ability to play above the rim allow him to score without any real moves in the arsenal.

    Being able to play above the rim at that height is extremely underrated. Guards could just lob it up knowing the only one capable of getting it is that 6'11" guy with the 7'3.5" wingspan. Between tip-ins, alley-oops and simple catch-and-finishes, Noel is bound to get his team some easy buckets in the half court, whether he refines his skill set or not.

Con: Raw, Not NBA-Ready

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    Usually when you take a guy first overall, you'd expect immediate results. Not with Nerlens Noel.

    Noel is nowhere near NBA-ready. Not physically or fundamentally.

    For starters, he just weighed in at 206 pounds. That's not going to cut it at the center position in the pros. Jeremy Lin weighs 200 pounds. Raymond Felton and Kyle Lowry weigh around 205. Deron Williams is at 209 pounds. These are point guards.

    Noel is going to have to deal with 260-pound ogres. Imagine Noel trying to defend a guy like Nikola Pekovic.

    It's not to say he'll never be able to add weight, but you don't just grow big and strong overnight. It could take awhile before Noel is physically capable of handling the punishment.

    Add this to the fact that he's still taking baby steps as an offensive player and he'll be out with an injury to start his career.

    Cleveland fans might want to hold off on buying Noel's jersey until his third year in the league.

Pro: Potential Centerpiece

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    It's not easy finding a reliable starting center. They're tough to come by.

    Nerlens Noel has the chance to be one of them. If everything works out with regard to his knee and the physical transition, Noel could end up being the centerpiece of the lineup.

    Of course, Kyrie Irving is the true centerpiece. But having a reliable center for the future makes it easier to construct a rotation.

    Given his upside as a prospect, he's got the chance to be one of Cleveland's long-term building blocks and a member of its core foundation.

Con: Offensive Limitations

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    There's no hiding the fact that Nerlens Noel is limited offensively. And unfortunately, that's unlikely to change over the next few years.

    It might not even change throughout the rest of his career.

    Noel is a defensive-oriented center whose primary responsibility is to protect the rim. In terms of offense, he's got a nonexistent jumper, he shot 52.9 percent from the free-throw line and he can't face the rim or use a dribble. That's not going to change before his 23rd birthday.

    He's limited to low-post scoring and finishing inside. There won't be any offensive plays called for Noel unless it's a pick-and-roll.

    This doesn't mean he's going to bust, but taking a player No. 1 overall who isn't going to contribute offensively means he better be damn good at playing defense.

Pro: Long-Term Upside

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    If Nerlens Noel succeeds in making the physical transition and really develops his post game, than the Cleveland Cavaliers will have themselves a potential franchise player.

    Noel has loads of upside given his elite athleticism, great size and unteachable defensive instincts. 

    Imagine if Tyson Chandler was the athlete that Nerlens Noel was?

    Noel has a combination of tools that have made him the sought-after prospect he is today. These tools give him upside. If he figures out how to use these tools to build the player he could become, then Noel will have the potential to eventually produce No. 1 overall value.

Con: Bust Potential

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    Raw big men have the tendency to flop.

    It's not unreasonable to feel pessimistic after seeing guys like Kwame Brown, Michael Olowokandi, Stromile Swift, Darko Milicic, Greg Oden and Hasheem Thabeet all bust as a pro.

    Sorry if I just scared you, Cleveland fans.

    But the transition for big men can be more challenging than it is for guards.

    Guards are used to playing against other guards the same size. Guards in college range from 6'0" to 6'5". That's pretty much the standard in the NBA as well.

    But big men in college aren't all 7'0", 250 pounds. Most centers at the college level are in the 6'10" range with the strength of a teen as opposed to a man.

    Bust potential is a lot higher for big men than guards, but it's even tougher for center prospects to make the transition when they're as raw offensively as Nerlens Noel.

Pro: No Need to Rush Noel with a Strong 2014 Draft Class

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    How about this for a game plan: Cleveland selects Nerlens Noel at No. 1 and allows him to rest, rehab, add strength and develop.

    Worst comes to worst, the Cavaliers stink for one more season. But this time, there's a huge reward waiting in the 2014 draft. Actually, there's a couple of huge rewards.

    Though it's a somewhat controversial thought process, taking Nerlens Noel could allow Cleveland to stink once again and put it in position to land a franchise-changing player. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle are all incoming freshman with superstar upsides.

    Given Dan Gilbert's son's track record, the Cavs might want to test their luck with the lottery one last time.

    How about a lineup in 2014-15 that starts Kyrie Irving in his prime, Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson and a stronger and healthier Nerlens Noel?

    Now that's a lineup Cleveland would be proud of. And all it would take is one more year of patience.

Con: Fan Disapproval

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    When you hear your team has the No. 1 overall pick, it's hard to get excited knowing it will be taking a guy who can't even play.

    With Nerlens Noel coming back from a torn ACL, he's not going to be ready to suit up until around Christmas time, which is likely a best-case scenario. And once he's cleared to play, how much time is he even going to get?

    Noel is awfully raw as it is, and chances are he'd be stuck on the bench to start even if his knee was fully healthy.

    Though Noel makes sense as a long-term prospect, it's not unreasonable for fans to be disappointed with his short-term outlook.