Assuming he is brought back this offseason, what do the Dallas Mavericks really have in Nerlens Noel moving forward?
The Mavericks pulled off a stunning trade at last year’s NBA trade deadline, acquiring Nerlens Noel for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a couple of second round picks.
The deal quickly proved to be an outstanding addition for a team looking to get more athletic and younger. The uber-athletic Noel is just twenty-three years old and gives Rick Carlisle a useful tool to use going forward.
In today’s NBA, centers are not as valued as the guard positions. In a faster-paced, shooting-based league, centers are becoming less and less involved in the actual flow of an offense and are more involved with simply rebounding and protecting the basket. Players like DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, and Anthony Davis are rare, but the Mavs may have a true budding star in Noel.
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A defensive savant, Noel has the athleticism and strength to leap with any opposing center while also possessing the bulk and force to box out and grab tough rebounds off of the glass.
His impact on the defensive end of the floor will continue to grow this coming season, thanks to some other defensive stalwarts the Mavs have already in their lineup.
Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, and Dorian Finney-Smith each had strong defensive seasons for the Mavs. Having that kind of consistent perimeter defense should allow Noel to simply stay put in the paint and snag anything and everything coming off of the board.
While Andrew Bogut has made a name for himself as a rim protector throughout his career, his brief time in Dallas proved that the Mavs needed youth and athleticism at that position.
The question surrounding Nerlens Noel is whether or not he can become one of the league’s best centers, considering he has the potential to become the very best. His God-given athletic ability and punishing defense is part of the “superstar” equation.
The Mavericks may simply have gotten their hands on a player who won’t improve much from where he currently is, but if he does, the Mavs have truly found something. The jury is still out on Noel, who has the chance to become the league’s best center.