Nerlens Noel may become the top pick in the upcoming 2013 NBA draft, but there’s a good chance the team that selects him won’t be able to put him in a game until Christmas time.
According to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com, the former Kentucky star admitted that he’s hoping to be ready by late-December:
Keith Langlois @Keith_Langlois
Nerlens Noel says hopes ready to go by Christmas. Says injury a blessing, working on other aspects. Will be a bettter player for it, he says5/16/2013, 4:48:44 PM
However, he’s not worried about tearing his ACL back in mid-February, as the big man feels he will come back better than ever and has been given a chance to improve in other areas.
Noel showed up at the NBA Scouting Combine at Attack Athletics in Chicago, Ill., on Thursday, allowing scouts and general managers to get a glimpse of him and—more importantly—take measurements.
The Wildcats center, according to Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, is measuring in at 6’11” and 3/4" with shoes on, which is mildly surprising. UK and other outlets have listed Noel at 6’10”, so he’s actually a bit taller than expected.
Jeff Goodman @GoodmanESPN
Nerlens Noel just told me he measured at 6-11 and 3/4 with shoes here in Chicago.5/16/2013, 3:51:30 PM
Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to work out or compete in the drills that many other prospects will be participating in over the course of this two-day event.
However, due to the immense upside, elite athleticism, top-tier shot-blocking capabilities, rim protection skills and non-stop motor, the Massachusetts native is on or near the top of practically every team’s big board.
While the injury is certainly a major concern, the dearth of superstar talent at the top of this draft is a large reason why most clubs are more than willing to expend a high pick on this young man.
There’s also the fact that Noel’s recovery is going as planned and he should be back to 100 percent by the time his rehabilitation concludes. He’s been making the pre-draft media rounds and recently appeared on ESPN to discuss his status with Hannah Storm:
The star seemed in good spirits, was without a brace and stayed true to his Christmas timetable for a return. That’s about all fans, scouts and general managers can ask for at this juncture in his recovery.
Considering the 2013-14 NBA season is scheduled to tip off on Oct. 29 of this year, Noel will only miss approximately two months—if everything goes to plan.
So far, it seems that is the case and whichever club lands him in the draft will be able to unveil him as a Christmas present to the fans.
Don’t forget to catch the 2013 NBA Draft Combine action on Thursday, May 16th and Friday, May 17th. The event will be broadcast both days from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET on ESPNU and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET on ESPN 2. For re-airs of the NBA Combine, NBATV will be airing Day 1 coverage on Saturday, May 18 at Noon ET. Day 2 replays will be Sunday May 19th at Noon ET.