The Cleveland Cavaliers don't have a perfect answer at the top of the 2013 NBA draft. There are some quality prospects in this class, but there are question marks around all of them. And that certainly includes the player who has been most widely thought of as the top pick: Kentucky center Nerlens Noel.
The Cavaliers apparently share a lofty opinion of Noel, but they are not so sold on him that they are ready to commit to him at No. 1.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski helps explain with this tweet:
In case the word of the distinguished Wojnarowski does not suffice, Chad Ford of ESPN also passed along that the Cavs will be picking between Len and Noel, should they make the first overall selection.
With their interest narrowed down to these two big men, it is safe to assume that the Cavs felt that an interior presence is this franchise's biggest need and that there is not a player at another position whose talent is so overwhelming that he must be the pick.
This is a sound conclusion. The Cavaliers are filled with youth and promise at every position except center. They could use increased shot-blocking and rebounding.
These areas figure to be the strength of Noel. Standing at 6'11", Noel has nice athleticism, good timing and a natural knack for snuffing out shots. It also doesn't hurt that the lanky young man has a listed wingspan of 7'4".
However, there are some serious red flags. Noel is checking in at just 219 pounds. He can forget about playing center at that weight. He will be pushed out of the paint with ease in the physical league.
If Noel can't add the bulk needed to hang in the paint, he will be worthless on offense. He does not have the outside shot to be an effective weapon on the perimeter.
Of course, Noel can add weight to his wiry frame, but then the question looms as to whether or not he will be able to maintain the athleticism which currently sets him apart.
The concern over Noel being able to add weight and maintain his explosiveness is valid from the start—as it would be with any player. This is especially true with Noel, however, given he is attempting to return from a torn ACL.
So, now we have a player with the ultimate career-derailing red flag floating around inside a knee that is going to have to support even more weight.
Those conditions are a recipe for bust cake.
All of this helps make the case for Len. The 7'1", 255-pounder needs a lot of polish, and he doesn't have the athleticism to be elite. However, at least he has an NBA-ready body and is not coming off of a major knee surgery.
Len may never be a franchise center, but all signs point to him having a productive career with a body that can handle the rigors of playing an NBA schedule.
The upside of Noel simply isn't worth the giant risk that comes along with him.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!