Power Forward, Indiana
Freshman, 18 years old
6’10″, 240 lbs.
2013-14 Stats: 26.5 MPG, 11.3 PPG (52.3% FG, 71.1% FT, 48.5% 3FG), 9.0 RPG, .9 APG, 1.4 BPG, 2.1 TOPG
Measurements: 7’4″ wingspan, 8’10″ standing reach, 37’ max vert, 31’ no step vert, 7.3% body fat
Cumulative Ranking: 8th | Bryant’s Ranking: 7th | Scott’s Ranking: 8th
Noah Vonleh: THE BREAKDOWN
Bryant: If Vonleh reaches his full potential, he’s the best fit in the class to play alongside DeMarcus Cousins (aside from Joel Embiid, that is). He’s solid in the post, has range out to the three point line, is a great rebounder (27.3% is tops of the 1st round prospects) and can block shots (1.4 blocks a game and a 5.4% block rate). The downside: he’s very, VERY raw. His basketball IQ is a major work in progress, and for every good decision or play he makes, he’s likely to make a boneheaded one minutes later. Could the Kings stomach another raw rookie with star potential?
Scott: I hope they can because I’m high on Vonleh, primarily for the fit next to Cousins that you spoke of. He may be a few years away from reaching his true potential, but I think he can provide some valuable minutes right away. He’s a strong athlete for someone his size and loves to attack the glass. He’s been compared to Chris Bosh, and I don’t necessarily disagree. But even if he turns into a better shot-blocking Tristan Thompson — a 12-and-10 guy — that’s not a bad player next to DeMarcus.
Bryant: I agree that even if he doesn’t reach his full potential, Vonleh is still a good selection and a good fit for Cousins. But the risk is still there, big time. It’s hard not to get excited about a legitimately 6-10 PF with above-average size athleticism and a 7’4 wingspan, but he needs so much coaching. Julius Randle isn’t as good a fit next to Cousins, but he’s not as much a risk as Vonleh is. Aaron Gordon may be raw offensively, but he doesn’t have the basketball IQ issues that Vonleh does. I wouldn’t be upset with a Vonleh selection by any means, but his lack of development does make him the riskiest of the top tier big men in my book. It would come down to how much you trust the Kings Coaching staff with player development.
Scott: In the top five, when you’re choosing between big men, I think it might be a risk to take Vonleh. But at No. 8, if Vonleh is there, it likely means the others are gone, and there are no surefire prospects left. At that point, the risk is lower, and Vonleh has the foundation of a quality NBA player. The Kings player development work is definitely on the hot seat and needs to be proven. I think Vonleh would be a great piece of clay for them to work with. His talent level is very high for an 18 year old, and as his body and brain catch up, you might have something special.
1. Vonleh’s age and size seem to be securing him a top eight selection, but given how raw he is, how long will it take before he can be counted on as a starter?
Ed: This is my biggest concern with him is that a team will rush him onto the court for long minutes that he isn’t ready for. Right now, he just doesn’t have the toughness to play against most NBA bigs and could be overwhelmed if rushed. If his minutes are limited to 15 or so per game, I think he could have a very good impact, especially with the flexibility he can bring on the offensive side with his ability to knock down shots. But, I think we are at least a full year, if not more, away from him being a full-time starter in the NBA.
2. Given that Vonleh had just 216 field goals attempted last year, how much of that was due to his raw offensive state and how much of it was Indiana’s offense gameplan?
Ed: It was a combination of both. Indiana’s offense was a mess last year, and there were plenty of times where Vonleh worked hard to get position in the post, but they couldn’t get him the ball. The other issue was Vonleh has a tendency to wander on offense, and he seems to be much more comfortable playing out on the perimeter than being in the post where he could make an impact.
3. After maybe Joel Embiid, is Vonleh the best complement to DeMarcus Cousins in this draft?
Ed: In terms of another big man to slot next to Cousins, then yes, Vonleh is probably a better option than players like Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon. I say that mainly because of his ability to knock down jumpers consistently which will avoid any crowding issues with Cousins on the offensive end. Add to it that he could be a very good defender in a few years, and the combination of Cousins and Vonleh could be a very strong interior duo.
A Royal Pain – Sacramento Kings Cumulative Big Board
15. Nik Stauskas – Shooting Guard, Michigan
14. Jusuf Nurkic – Center, Bosnia
13. Adreian Payne – Power Forward, Michigan State
12. Gary Harris – Guard, Michigan State
11. Doug McDermott – Forward, Creighton
10. Dario Saric – Forward, Croatia
9. James Young – Guard/Forward, Kentucky
8. Noah Vonleh –Forward, Indiana