Red Flags on Nerlens Noel and Other Top NBA Draft Lottery Prospects

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Red Flags on Nerlens Noel and Other Top NBA Draft Lottery Prospects
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Nerlens Noel, out of Kentucky, is drawing significant injury questions as the NBA draft approaches.

One of the key tenets of modern sports science is "don't acquire injuries." Four teams are about to do just that in this week's NBA draft.

With the four players I detail in this slideshow—Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Anthony Bennett and C.J. McCollum—there is no doubt about the talent level, but there are serious questions about their short- and long-term health. NBA medical staffs, in concert with scouts and executives, are currently assessing how that will affect their careers.

It's one thing to draft a player with a known injury, but no one wants to make the next Greg Oden pick. What people are looking for is whether the injury is understood and if the player can be effective. 

NBA contract rules limit some of the exposure and risk a team takes, but with players like these, a miss can be devastating for the franchise for much longer. Teams don't mind taking risks as long as they get production. Bill Walton is the exemplar of this; while he was often injured, he was also dominant when able to get on the court and in the proper role.

We'll see exactly how teams rate these players later this week, but it will take years before we know whether they were correct. At this stage, it doesn't appear that there is significant downward pressure on any of these potential draftees, but the boards are still fluid.

I spoke with teams around the league to help understand where teams are in their thought process on the four players with the biggest intersections of injury and upside.

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