"There is no sure-fire number one overall pick in this years draft. Chris Grant is the worst for taking Dion over the great Harrison Barnes because Ben McLemore is the best player ever. Nerlens Noel is not capable of being a franchise cornerstone because of raw offensive ability and because he's the skinniest player of all time. Noel is only a top ten prospect because this is the worst draft ever"
At this point we've all heard this narrative and I would say it's been hammered to death if certain media outlets weren't preoccupied with covering the battle to be the Browns third string QB and what Tim Tebow is doing today. Regardless, this narrative is beyond absurd, even for the wonderful Cleveland sports media and that one sports network we're all forced to watch.
The Myth of a Consensus Number One Pick
This year is said to have no consensus number one overall pick, but is that really so unique to this years draft like everyone makes it out to be? If so is it even true? Before Noel's injury Noel was nearly everyone's top prospect. Excluding a brief period immediately after his injury, Noel went wire to wire atop Chad Ford's big board. Assuming the knee checks out, that seems like a consensus to me. It is such revisionist history to say that even a majority of recent drafts have had a consensus first overall pick. Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin were no doubters sure, after that though: 2011 (Kyrie vs. Williams), 2010 (Wall vs. Turner), 2008 (Rose vs. Beasley), 2007 (Oden vs. Durant), 2006 (Yuck), 2005 (Paul vs. Williams...wait a second). Since 2005 the 1st overall pick has only been a sure thing twice.
The Myth of Chris Grant Being a Failure
The idea that the Cavs messed up taking Waiters because McLemore is a better prospect is equally absurd. You absolutely can not draft with an eye on next year. It would be impossible to even begin to do so and even if it were it would make zero sense. The only argument that even deserves the time of day is the decision Chris Grant made last year: Dion vs. Barnes. Dion had a better rookie year in nearly every statistical category and his style of play comes with much more upside than Barnes'. The ability to get to the hoop at will, handle the ball, play as explosively as Dion does are all traits that are much harder to improve on than something like shooting or Dion's questionable decision making. I'll keep Dion and you can go watch the Golden State Warriors thank you very much Cleveland sports media.
The Myth of Nerlens Noel Not Being a Worthy Prospect
Typically, big men do not step on to college campuses and dominate immediately, let alone walking into the NBA and dominating. It is what made Anthony Davis and Greg Oden such elite prospects. Other than that: Nerlens Noel compares favorably with any other elite freshman big in recent history. Since 1998, according to sports-reference, only one player has had 2+ steals and 4+ blocks in the same season: that player is Nerlens Noel as an 18 year old freshman. Kentucky's D-rating dropped by about 10 points after Noel went out with injury. We're talking about a once-in-a-generation type of defensive talent.
However, most people do not need to be convinced of his defensive talent (some do, and those that do are what I like to call lost causes). It is his offensive game that worries most people. Arguing that Noel only averaged 10.5 PPG is an extreme case of taking stats without context (which I kind of do later, but I do it for simplicity sake, honest). First, he did so while only taking 6.9 shots per game. He had crazy low 17.4 usage rate, especially considering he was by far the best player on an extremely mediocre team. Nerlens has the ability to take guys off the dribble, however he did not get to showcase that ability very often at Kentucky. Noel was also a victim of lousy guard play and beyond lousy spacing by Kentucky. Contrary to popular belief, Noel does have offensive upside. More importantly however, a championship team does not need 5 elite scorers to win a championship. Roy Hibbert is far from an offensive superstar, and was much more raw as a freshman than Noel, but do you think the Pacers would still be standing without him? Would the Pistons have won it all without Ben Wallace? We have our elite scorer in Kyrie, now we need an elite defender.
The Myth of Nerlens' Draft Status Only Being a Product of an Awful Draft Class
PER is an flawed statistic even if you ask John Hollinger. It tends to underrate defensive players and overrated extremely high usage players. However, this means by both accounts Nerlens should be underrated by PER ratings so I am going to use it to give something resembling an objective point of view.
According to the database at Draftexpress Nerlens had a PER of 27.7, which can be considered extremely impressive for such a raw, defensive minded, low usage player. Noel had a higher PER than Derrick Rose, John Wall, Lamarcus Aldridge, Bargiani (I'm just assuming had he played college ball he would have), Hasheem Thabeet, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: all players deemed worthy of a first or second overall picks. Only in the Durant/Oden and Irving/Williams class does he not beat one of the top two picks (he has a better freshman PER than Al Horford and was in the ballpark of his Sophomore PER and yes I know I'm stretching). Horford vs. Noel circa 2007 would have made for a nice debate and Enes Kanter was at least just as much of a question mark as Noel. You could make a strong case that historically Noel would have went top 3 regardless of what class he came out in. If you at least see some value in PER then he stacks up very well with recent top picks. At the very least, his PER (or any advanced metric for that matter) is far more useful in argument for him being a top prospect than it would be against it. Combine that with the fact that we all expected to be drafting 3rd or lower and the opportunity to draft Noel is an extremely large blessing, not the curse that some are making it out to be.
The last point that has been beaten over the head is that this draft is historically awful. I feel like that is said about every draft class around this time. Other than Anthony Davis, were the top 15 or so prospects from last years really that much better than this year's. Same with the year before that and probably before that and probably continuing forever until the LeBron draft. I really do not think it is nearly as weak as the media likes to say it is.
The Not So Hidden Secret of Cleveland Media Fail
Ultimately, a lot of what has been said since the Cavs draft since the lottery by the so called experts has just been annoying to me. When they take the time of day to discuss it their points are ignorant at best and in all likelihood just plain lazy.
...Of Course the Cavs doctors could know something we don't know or Chris Grant could pull a Chris Grant and make this a waste of everyone's time.