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Actual Pick: Anthony Bennett
This might seem like an odd choice given that Noel sat out the entire 2013-14 campaign, but hear me out.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were set in the backcourt. They needed a big man to build around for the future, and who better than an athletic defender in the mold of Anthony Davis? Had the Cavs taken Noel, there would be far less pressure to draft Joel Embiid this time around. The team could turn its attention to Andrew Wiggins or perhaps even trade the pick.
Granted, that's all 20-20 hindsight.
But here's what we know about Noel so far.
Per the South Jersey Times' Rob Edwards, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown had some pretty positive things to say about the prospect:
The first thing that I’ve fallen in love with is that he’s beyond competitive. There’s a dog in there, a lot of toughness. I misjudged him, looking at him with his big eyes and he’s 19 years old, there’s a naivety with him as there should be. He doesn’t talk a lot, but he’s a fantastic listener. He’s a fierce competitor.
So the intangibles are all there. By Brown's account, the on-court ability is, too (again, according to Edwards):
He can jump. He can miss a blocked shot, hit the floor and get back up. That’s special. I think the growth of his foul shot will carry into his real shot. We won’t wrap him up in cotton (during summer league), but we won’t make him play 38 minutes. I think it will be more of a gut thing, but we won’t be shy, we’ll just be smart.
Maybe his own coach is a little biased, but keep in mind that Brown really has no incentive to put unnecessary pressure on Noel. The praise should probably be taken at face value.
No one wants to draft an injured player, but imagine the position Cleveland would be in at the moment. Last season was a lost one anyway. This team has the future to think about, and that future would look a whole lot brighter with Noel in the fold.