BOZICH: Noel or McLemore? Will Kentucky Make Draft History? - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: Noel or McLemore? Will Kentucky Make Draft History?

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Nerlens Noel is in line to become the third Kentucky player taken first in the NBA Draft in four seasons. Nerlens Noel is in line to become the third Kentucky player taken first in the NBA Draft in four seasons.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The NBA is not coming to Louisville, but we can turn to the NBA – to discuss the upcoming draft as well as the playoffs:

*After two seasons in Newark while Madison Square Garden was under renovation, the NBA Draft is on the move again. But it's not returning to the Garden. It's making a stop in Brooklyn, at the Barclays Center on June 27.

The KFC Yum! Center would be a better choice.

If you examine the mock drafts, you will find as many as five players with local connections are projected to shake commissioner David Stern's hand during the first round – Gorgui Dieng of Louisville; Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin of Kentucky; and Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller of Indiana.

Will Noel become the third UK player in four seasons taken first? Even without playing a minute since Feb. 12 when Noel took that frightening tumble against Florida and suffered a torn knee ligament?

Noel isn't the sure thing that Anthony Davis was last season with New Orleans or that John Wall was with Washington three years ago. Some are predicting Kansas wing Ben McLemore will jump to the top of the class.

That's McSilly. Noel is a better bet than Orb in the Kentucky Derby.

Remember: When in doubt, NBA teams go with size. At 6 feet 11, Noel has seven critical inches on McLemore.

*Over the last 16 NBA Drafts, the first overall pick has been a center or forward/center hybrid nine times. Here is the list:

2012 (Anthony Davis); 2007 (Greg Oden); 2006 (Andrea Bargnani); 2005 (Andrew Bogut); 2004 (Dwight Howard); 2002 (Yao Ming); 2001 (Kwame Brown); 1998 (Michael Olowokandi); 1997 (Tim Duncan).

Check the list. Now check it again. How many of those guys have won an NBA title?

One – Duncan.

Of course, that stat is misleading. Only one other overall top pick during that period has led his team to the title – LeBron James.

*Of course, others argue that it depends upon which team makes the selection. Unlike the NFL, the NBA uses a lottery to finalize the draft order of the first 14 picks. The lottery is May 21.

Here are the franchises with the five worst records in the NBA this season – the ones most likely to earn the top overall pick. I've listed the center for each team and my prediction on whether they'd take Noel or McLemore.

Orlando – Nikola Vucevic. Shaq. Dwight Howard. Nerlens. Orlando has a history of bringing a big man to the Magic Kingdom.

Charlotte – Byron Mullens. Say hello to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He's your new teammate, Nerlens.

Cleveland – Anderson Varejao, Tyler Zeller. Varejao is solid, especially in tandem with Zeller. He averaged 14.4 rebounds but only played 25 games. But the Cavs just took Dion Waiters to play shooting guard. The pick will be Noel, and then Cleveland can move one of its centers.

Phoenix  -- Marcin Gortat. With Gortat turning 30 next season, the Suns can wait on a shooting guard. It's Noel.

New Orleans – Robin Lopez, Anthony Davis. The Hornets have invested big money in Davis – with no guarantee he can become a full-time power forward. McLemore would be a safer pick.

*Has any other school ever produced the top overall pick three times in four seasons? Or in back-to-back seasons?

Three overall top picks in four seasons would be a record.

I figured another powerful program, such as UCLA or North Carolina, would have produced the top overall pick in consecutive seasons.


It's happened once.

By Duquesne – Dick Ricketts (1955) and Sihugo Green (1956).

*Former University of Louisville star Darrell Griffith was a teammate of Dell Curry for one season (1986-87) with the Utah Jazz. He remembers when Curry and his wife, Sonya, had their first son, Stephen. They've remained friends throughout retirement.

Griffith hasn't seen many shooters better than Dell Curry. But Griffith thinks Dad has done such a good job working with his son that Dell is now the No. 2 shooter in the Curry family.

"I'd have to go with Stephen," Griffith said. "The way he's shooting the ball right now is amazing. You're surprised when he misses."

The numbers are on Stephen's side. Dell shot 40.2 percent from the three-point line and 84.3 percent from the foul line over his NBA career. Stephen is making 44.6 percent of his threes and 90.1 percent from the line.

No wonder Griffith likes Golden State and Curry to win the Western Conference championship and meet Miami in the NBA Finals.

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