Coach John Calipari’s Kentucky players get all the hype — and for good reason — but a new name has emerged as a potential top pick in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft.
He’s not a hot shot one-and-done, but a Ukrainian import who has an extra year of collegiate seasoning under his belt. According to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, Maryland’s Alex Len’s name is now being bandied about as a possible building block for the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers as the team decides what to do with its No. 1 pick.
The Wildcats’ Nerlens Noel spent most of his freshman year in Lexington as a shot-blocking force and the presumptive top pick in the draft. Even after tearing his ACL, most pundits and scouts still saw him going first in what is widely considered to be the weakest draft in years.
However, with a 7-foot-1, 260-pound frame, Len may have worked himself into the conversation.
Yes, Noel has all the ability in the world, but even at full strength he was seen as a major project. He needs to put real weight onto his 6-foot-10, 228-pound body before he can start bruising down low against the likes of Roy Hibbert in Indiana or Dwight Howard — and top picks are expected to make an immediate impact.
That being said, Len is also recovering from an injury. He sustained a stress fracture towards the end of his sophomore season, so teams are judging his draft status solely upon his performance with the Terps. His numbers do not jump out at you: 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. The potential is there though, which can develop into a double-double guy at the next level.
The potential for Noel to be the same, and potentially far better as a more naturally gifted athlete, is there as well. Thus, we can’t really know if the “Alex Len at No. 1” rumors have any real legs, or is simply one more form of the posturing we have come to expect from NBA front office members and executives around this time of year.