The NBA playoffs aren’t even past the second round but it’s not too early to start speculating about the NBA’s No 1 draft pick. The 2013 draft class isn’t the strongest, missing the classic LeBron James or Dwight Howard, but nevertheless, the show must go on. NBA drafts are all about potential nowadays when there’s an absence of superstar talent. Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley can’t decide on who’s No. 1. Here’s their latest debate.

Riley: The No. 1 pick has to be Kentucky center Nerlens Noel. A 6-foot-11 defensive dynamo that blocks shots better than any prospect we’ve seen in years. It doesn’t matter who lands the first pick, you can’t turn your back on a 19-year-old still growing into his frame. His ACL injury isn’t a big deal. It’s 2013 and ACL injuries aren’t career breakers anymore. He’ll be back to 100 percent by the time he’s 20-years-old. With a weak crop coming in, Noel is the best of the bunch.

Green: I watched a few Kentucky games this season and I came away unimpressed with Noel. Sure, he’s a beast on the defensive end but his offense is severely lacking. There are two sides to basketball in the NBA: the offensive and the defensive. Being a one-dimensional undersized power forward (215 pounds) will get you drafted but when we start talking about No. 1 picks, well, a prospect needs to bring more to the table than just shot blocking. Not only is Noel limited offensively but he shot just under 53 percent from the free throw line, making him a potential killer to any offensive attack. Scoring rules in the NBA so if we’re talking about No. 1 picks then we need to be discussing Trey Burke from Michigan. A floor general, big time shot maker and a fierce competitor coming from the point guard position. Sign me up.

Riley: The thing about Burke is that he isn’t a true point guard, more a combo guard. Perhaps even a spark plug off the bench in the mold of Nate Robinson. Nothing about Burke says No. 1 pick to me. Sure, he was outstanding as a Wolverine but 5-foot-11-inch guards don’t go first overall unless they’re explosive, top shelf talents like Allen Iverson was. Noel’s a legitimate seven-footer who might even grow another inch or two. The offense is obviously a problem spot but nothing some good coaching can’t shape.

Green: Noel isn’t natural at all on offense so it’s going to take a lot of coaching, hard work and determination on his part to just get him adequate as a scorer. You’re looking at a guy who might top out as a 10 to 12 points per game scorer. The feel for the role just isn’t there when I watch him play. However, Burke led his team all season and guided his squad to the championship game utilizing a skill set that’s well rounded. Passing, shooting and scoring, Burke has it all.

Riley: A seven-footer or a six-footer? You make the call and I’ll take the first one.

Green: You can have the offensively challenged, undersized, incomplete big man who’s coming off an ACL injury. I’ll take the healthy Wooden and Naismith Award winner in Burke.


Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk