It’s no secret that the Charlotte Bobcats have an embarrassing front-court. Bismack Biyombo can block shots and rebound, but he’s not an elite defender yet and is woeful on offense. Byron Mullens has has quality range on a smooth jumper and can hit the boards, but can’t play defense worth a lick and is possibly the least efficient starter in the NBA.
I’d waste my time talking about Brendan Haywood, Tyrus Thomas and newly acquired Josh McRoberts, but, well, I’d be literally wasting my (and your) time.
The simple fact is the Bobcats aren’t good enough in the paint. One way or another, they need to get bigger, stronger, more explosive, and more effective. Simply getting a little scarier might be fine, too.
Considering the fact that they’re the worst team in pro basketball right now, odds are they’ll secure the #1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Cross your fingers, shout 10 hell mary’s from the top of Mount Everest and turn the lights on and off three times – all for the much-needed good luck, of course.
But if that ends up happening, Charlotte needs a fool-proof prospect that can come in and do some major damage right away. I scouted Kansas swing man Ben McLemore last time, and this time around we’re looking at more of a defensive presence in Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel. He went down earlier this year with a torn ACL, but there’s a pretty decent chance he still enters the draft and he could still go #1 overall. And even if he doesn’t, the Bobcats might have a shot at getting him if they unfortunately don’t get the top overall pick.
Let’s breakdown Noels from his college work and assess how he projects to the NBA game:
Nerlens Noel’s Strengths
Shot-blocker. Next time you write that down, put it in all CAPS. The guy can and will change games at the next level with precision timing on shot blocks. Can force altered and missed shots, and routinely blocks balls entering the lane. His mere presence will slow down and even take away a lot of drives. Has Really good size, length and wing span (7’4”). Very explosive for the position with the frame to bulk up and play either center or power forward. Very athletic and fluid. Solid passer and is developing his offensive game. Loads of upside here. The sky is truly the limit.
Nerlsen Noel’s Weaknesses
Offensively, this kid is raw as heck. Not a great shooter and doesn’t possess any real range. Pretty limited inside as far as post moves go. Doesn’t always look all that comfortable with the ball in his hands. Needs to get more diverse and stronger inside. Could stand to add some muscle for the rigors of the NBA. Would help limit foul trouble and make his shot-blocking stand out even more. Horrible free throw shooter.
Should the Bobcats Draft Him?
No, they shouldn’t. I don’t hate Noel completely as a top-level prospect, but he’s beyond impaired on the offensive end. Considering the Bobcats already have a defensive stopper who is offensively challenged in Miyombo, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense to add another of the same capacity. He’ll be tempting and he might be the best value (depending on where Charlotte is picking), but he doesn’t dramatically change their team right away. Add in his knee injury, and he’s got additional question marks. I wouldn’t scoff at the pick if the Bobcats went this route, but they’d be better served adding an elite wing like McLemore or a more polished/versatile big man.