This is the 26th in a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: Noah Vonleh
NOAH VONLEH, INDIANA
6-foot-10, 240 pounds
HIS STORY: Noah Vonleh has received more hype than anyone since the season ended. Although he was a five-star recruit out of New Hampton School (NH), the Haverhill native didn't garner the same attention as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle prior to his college career. He was impressive as a freshman at Indiana, putting up 11.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in earning the Big 10 Freshman of the Year award and a berth on the All-Big Ten third team, but the rebuilding IU team struggled to a 17-15 record and missed the NCAA Tournament. But since declaring for the draft, he’s done nothing but impress general managers and scouts.
HIS STRENGTHS: Vonleh is a very good athlete with a terrific basketball body. He has hands nearly a foot wide, and at the NBA combine he measured an absurd 7-foot-4 wingspan. His max vertical was 37 inches, which is very impressive for a player his size. He's only 18, so his long, lanky frame is still developing. and with such a great foundation you can expect him to put up significant muscle mass without compromising any athleticism. He’s a high motor guy who was terrific on the defensive boards last year with a rebound rate of 27.3 percent (12th in nation). In addition to the physical tools he’s a skilled player, though he didn’t have the opportunity to showcase it much at Indiana. He can step out and knock down the stand-still 3-pointer (48.5 percent on 33 attempts) and shot a good 53 percent from 2-point range. He and can also handle the ball comfortably for a power forward.
HIS WEAKNESSES: His frame can handle additional muscle mass and he’ll need it. Last year, teams could muscle him off the block, forcing him to take longer, righty baby hook shots (which were his go-to post move). Additionally, he needs to develop more countermoves on the block. Teams will scout him and take away his primary moves, so he needs to have an array of counters to get by guys because right now he’s not going through them. While he has a good skill base set, he still has a long way to go in being very good in any one area on the offensive end. Reports from his workouts are that he has impressed physically but also in his ability to knock down shots.
IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? Vonleh has consistently moved up the draft board all year, culminating now with him possibly being a top 5 overall selection. He just oozes with potential. So many physical gifts, diverse skill set and high motor are rare for an 18-year-old. That said, the only thing that will translate immediately is his ability to rebound. Other than that, it might take one to three years before he starts to really impact games night in and night out across the stat line. As I’ve said here many times, the Celtics need guys that can make a difference now. But given his ceiling is so high, I could see the Celtics taking Vonleh at the No. 6 spot . . . if he’s still on the board, that is.
COMING NEXT: Julius Randle of Kentucky