Nerlens Noel, the freshman phenom from Kentucky was projected to be one of the first two picks in last night's NBA Draft, even after he tore his ACL in February.
It was surprising then, when Noel dropped all the way to No. 6, and was eventually traded from the New Orleans Pelicans to the 76ers for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday.
There are a few speculating that it was more than the knee injury that caused Noel's slide out of the top 5.
According to ESPN, "There were concerns with the 'people' he chose to surround himself, questions about how his narrow shoulders and lithe frame would hold up while battling with grown men in the NBA. Let's not forget to toss in the fact that he doesn't have much of an offensive game."
It's interesting that his entourage could cause him to fall so drastically, but when coupled with a torn ACL, the fall becomes less surprising - especially if Noel's injured knee is still an issue.
Writes Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com:
No one knows for certain why Noel fell. One general manager who passed told ESPN that it was likely due to the ACL injury and those he decided to surround himself with throughout the draft process.
Another executive responded with the following text message: "The knee looks bad."
The fall certainly cost Noel a few bucks in his first contract, but the second deal is the one that truly matters. Now Noel has a chance to be far more marketable in a city like Philadelphia than in Cleveland. He'll also come in with a chip on his shoulder again, similar to when he arrived at Kentucky a year ago with no shortage of skeptics.
So how much money did the deal cost Noel?
Tom Ley of Deadspin puts it in perspective:
According to the NBA's rookie salary scale, Noel would have been owed an average of $4.6 million per year over the next three seasons if he had been drafted No. 1 overall, and about $4.1 million per year if he had been taken at the No. 2 spot. But Noel fell to the sixth spot in the draft, and he's set to make around $2.7 per year during his first three seasons in the league.
That lightens Noel's wallet to the tune of $4-5 million over his first three season.
The slide may not be a bad thing, however, writes Goodman:
Noel will walk into Philadelphia as just another draftee, while Bennett will have the weight of No. 1 pick when he arrives in Cleveland. There's a certain expectation that comes with being picked first overall, and some just aren't equipped to handle it.
There was no surefire No. 1 guy in 2013, and Noel may have avoided the pressure and the curse of coming off the board first.
As with most draft-day trades, only time will tell which team won this deal. It appears, however, that Noel may have benefited in the long-term, despite the short term financial hit.