ESPN's Chad Ford and Jay Bilas conducted teleconferences to discuss Thursday night's NBA Draft, and Kentucky products Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin were discussed a fair amount.
Here are their comments on each:
CHAD FORD: "I think (the Cleveland Cavaliers) like Noel. I think they like all six of the players that they’ve brought in. The question is do you like him as a No. 1 pick?
The Cavs are in a difficult situation this year where there isn’t a clear No. 1, there isn’t a franchise player. So they’ve had to take the attitude of let’s find out what these guys do well instead of obsessing over what they can’t do because if you do that, you disqualify every player in the Draft, especially this year.
Noel has been the guy that’s been on the top of their big board all year. He fits the criteria that I hear Cleveland talk about, about the best talent available, which is different than saying the best player available – the best talent available. Who will be the best player in three to five years?
What’s the difference between Nerlens Noel and Alex Len analytically? All the analytics say that Nerlens Noel should be a star. Almost all of them, but not all of them, but most of them say Alex Len shouldn’t.
And it really comes down to one number. They find a predictive quality in steals. When big men get steals, they have found that that number is predictive of NBA success. You get a lot of steals as a big man. The people that have done that in the past in college have gone on to have great NBA careers. If you don’t get steals it shows the opposite, that big men that can’t get steals in college when they get to the NBA, they fail.
JAY BILAS: "How often for a first overall pick would we say, great defender, great shot blocker, really plays hard, gets a lot of steals, really impacts the game on the defensive end but doesn’t score and is injured?
He’s going to be up on stage wherever he’s drafted walking up on crutches and that’s unusual. I think it does raise some questions with big guys who are injured. It’s not like he has a pulled muscle; he’s got an ACL injury.
But his offense, how concerned am I about his offense? I think he can get better and will get better. Do I think he’ll be a really good offensive player in the league? I don’t, but I think he can improve. I just don’t see a gigantic improvement coming from him on the offensive end. I think he’s always going to be limited. He doesn’t have a great offensive feel for the game.
But he’s a savant on the defensive end, and he’s certainly worthy of a top‑three pick, and if he went No. 1 it wouldn’t surprise me.
CHAD FORD: "For sure (he could end up in the first round). Look, he’s one of the most intriguing players in the Draft. I think he’s the second youngest player in the Draft. He doesn’t turn 19 until August. He was also one of the youngest college basketball players in the country.
He has a couple of things going for him in that he’s got elite speed and quickness, and he’s long and he’s a very creative finisher around the basket. He’s explosive off the floor.
Calipari was referring to him as sort of a Russell Westbrook type player coming into the season. He was disappointing, he struggled with his jump shot, he struggled mildly with his decision making, and just never really looked comfortable out there.
But there’s talent there. He’s one of the highest ranked high school players in the country. NBA GMs know this, and a team that’s drafting late in the 20s might say, look, he’s not ready now, but he might be the best player that you could get in the 20s in a couple of years and gamble on him.
Right now we’ve got him projected going in the second round. I think I have him mocked going to the Pistons at 37. But I’d say his range is 25 to 40.
I think Archie Goodwin has been a head scratcher because Calipari has this long track record of getting the most out of players, and you see most of these players improve their weaknesses and improve their overall basketball IQ and we didn’t see that out of Archie this year.
He looked a lot like the player we saw at the start of the season, and that’s what gives people pause because now you see is he not accept coaching. Are you not working on your game, are you unable to work out flaws?"
JAY BILAS: "I think Archie is a good talent that had a tough year. Yeah, he’s not a great shooter. He’s good in transition. He’s good athletically. He’s good off the dribble, but he’s not a point guard. And when they tried him at that position, I think it was difficult for him.
He did not meet the expectations that everybody had for him, but that doesn’t mean he’s still not a good prospect. I mean, back in the old days, guys had really rough freshman years, and they turn around and they’re great players. The start is not the finish for him. He can and will get better.
I’ve got him slated as top of the second round. But he’s talented enough to be a first‑round draft pick.
He’s a good prospect that has a chance."