Nerlens Noel would be a great free agency addition for the Trail Blazers
As noted, finding an upgrade for Enes Kanter’s role with the Blazers should be one of the team’s top priorities. Jusuf Nurkic does a lot of things well; vertical spacing and staying out of foul trouble are not among his strengths.
Nerlens Noel would address both of those problems. Noel was highly drafted coming out of the University of Kentucky for his athleticism and potential to be a defensive force.
While the former Wildcat has never lived up to his lofty expectations, he’s proved that he can be a useful piece for any NBA team.
One accurate aspect of his scouting report is his top-level athleticism. Noel’s springs allow him to reject nearly every shot that comes his way and throw down any lob in his vicinity.
This past season, he averaged 2.2 blocks per game while playing for the New York Knicks. The Blazers need a player who can send shots into the crowd when Jusuf Nurkic is in foul trouble or if he just needs a breather. They also need a player who can do this:
This aspect of the pick-and-roll game has been missing for the Blazers since Hassan Whiteside’s departure. While Nurkic and Kanter both do things that Noel could never, they weren’t nearly as much of a threat on the roll. Having Nerlens Noel’s potential to tear the roof down on every pick-and-roll will make opponents hesitate a lot more about blitzing Damian Lillard off of screens.
While Nerlens certainly didn’t live up to his status as a top six draft pick or even as a starting caliber center, he can definitely be an impact player off the pine and is more than worth a $5 million MLE.