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Draft analyst Ed Isaacson evaluates Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress

Kentucky forward Nerlens Noel (3) is fouled by Texas A&M guard Alex Caruso (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Reed Arena on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)

Kentucky forward Nerlens Noel (3) is fouled by Texas A&M guard Alex Caruso (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Reed Arena on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)


Ed Isaacson is learning to appreciate more how Kentucky coach John Calipari has put the Wildcats in position to win annually despite have a roster that continually turns over.  “What he does is develop the mental attitude the guys need to be NBA players,” said Isaacson, a NBA scout/analyst who operates NBADraftBlog.com and is a NBA contributor for SLAM online.

He shared his views on the current Cats and what might lie ahead for them in terms of the NBA draft.

Question: What have you liked best about Nerlens Noel? Any way he’s not a top five pick and could he possibly be even the No. 1 pick?
Isaacson: “Noel’s raw defensive ability is some of the best I have seen in a long time.  Obviously he uses his length well to not only block shots, but to get his hands in passing lanes and disrupt post moves. He still needs to learn how to play solid defense with his feet, but he is ahead of the curve. He is active and you can see the consistent effort on the court, both very important from a young player.  He could easily drop out of the top five solely because his offense isn’t even college-ready, let alone close to NBA standards, and teams have been burned by picking one-dimensional players too high.  I don’t see that happening though, and depending on who gets the No. 1 pick, he could play his way into that conversation in the next few months.”

Question: With the way Alex Poythress stock has dropped in most mock drafts, how do you evaluate his play and what will scouts be looking most to see from him if he wants to be a lottery pick? Any way he would drop out of first round?
Isaacson: “After Poythress’ strong start to the season, he really hasn’t shown much on the court. Because of his high profile, all of his mistakes are magnified, and what could possibly be passed of as ‘freshman mistakes’ is overexamined. There are some major concerns though from an NBA perspective. He doesn’t have a great feel for the game. He is athletic and can make some plays, but he just isn’t a smart player.  It’s almost like he doesn’t realize that this isn’t high school and he isn’t going to outrun and outjump everyone, and he hasn’t adjusted. The tools are there, he just needs to figure it out – which can be tough, because he simultaneously has to be improving.  I still wouldn’t see him dropping past the middle of the first round, and there is as good a chance we are talking lottery again in April. He has time to get it together.”

MONDAY: Isaacson on Willie-Cauley Stein and Archie Goodwin.

Permanent link to this article: http://vaughtsviews.com/draft-analyst-ed-isaacson-evaluates-nerlens-noel-and-alex-poythress/


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  1. eddie

    i still think these kids should stay another year they are good not but not great they need at least another year to develop their skills if not they will take a trip to the D-League As other cats have all because the beleived the lies that the agents told them when in fact the agents could give a hill of beans about the players all they want is their cut of the money robbing them of a college education and not only that perhaps a national championship while they are riding the pine being bench warmers and thinking my agent told me i would get alot of minutes, wish i stayed with the team they’re having so much fun…and that is the sad truth to it all.

  2. UK 24 7

    I think Poythress is the most talentd player on this team but hasn’t figured out how to utilize it yet. He will be a great NBA player someday but that time is a few years away. I think Alex is a very intelligent young man who realizes what is going on and will make the move to the next level when the time is right.

  3. Alan

    At this point I think (for whatever that’s worth) that everyone on this team except Noel should think long and hard about jumping into the draft. As Charles Barkley said, “just because you can go to the pros, doesn’t mean you should.”
    I have seen too many players go too early and never make it. Pro teams have no loyalty, they just want players who can play. No one on this team is close to being ready to play on a pro level, and finding a team who has the patience to wait for a player who isn’t even outstanding against college competition is very hit or miss.
    Look at Terrance Jones and Doron Lamb. They were much, much better college players than either Poythress or Goodwin and they are stuck in the D-League.
    With a year’s experience and a team that, especially with these guys back, will be prohibitive favorites to win a National Championship, they could have a year to remember.
    With the competition on next year’s team, they could become much more ready for the pros, regardless of playing time. The danger is dropping down in the draft, but (Cal’s) history tells us even subs on a great team can go high in the draft, if they earn it.


    My sentiments exactly Alan…well said!

  5. mpennery

    There is absolutely no question about this whatsoever. Not even Nerlins is anywhere close to NBA ready. No offense to speak of and every NBA center has to be able to hit the 10 ft. jumper if left open and Nerlins I don’t think has even attempted a single one all year. And he’s too thin. While a great defender for college, NBA men will be a completely different experience.
    Poythress is still a boy and is obviously not ready for the man’s game. I think this is his choice, not a consequence of slow development. He’s not playing to his potential because deep down, he doesn’t care to rush off to the NBA. Let the boy enjoy his college experience and stop trying to push him out the door or criticize him for not being ready in a year.
    I won’t even talk about Archie. Great potential but nowhere even near ready mentally.
    Willie would be crazy to leave, too. In fact, I’d sue for bad advice if told so.
    Another year of college would BENEFIT the NBA careers of all these players, especially since the success of next year’s team will raise all their stock even more.

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