Nerlens Noel is the early favorite to grab the No. 1 spot overall in the 2013 NBA draft.
“There just isn’t a player that’s out there that has his upside,” said Chad Ford, ESPN’s NBA draft analyst. “Nerlens isn’t like Anthony Davis last year where every person agreed … but to me he’s got the best shot of being the No. 1 pick. The majority of NBA guys that I speak to have him there.”
Noel is averaging 10.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, 2.8 steals and 2.1 assists -- numbers reminiscent of Davis' effort over the first quarter of last season in Kentucky.
But despite his top prospect status, Noel will be one of the more debated 2013 picks because he has elite athleticism and a high motor for the game but lacks offensive versatility.
“The way that some made it sound coming in was that he was going to struggle, and I don’t really think he’s struggled," Ford said. "He clearly doesn’t have a polished offensive game, but he’s found ways to score the basketball.
“When you talk to the sabermetric (advanced stat) guys in the NBA, they will say that Noel, along with Cody Zeller, are the guys,” Ford added. “When you pick up blocks and steals at that rate together, that is the biggest statistical indicator of elite athleticism. And that’s probably what carries Noel to the No. 1 pick.”