- Chad Ford, ESPN Senior Writer
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I just wrote that I believe the Cleveland Cavaliers will likely take Nerlens Noel at No. 1. However, what happens to Noel if he doesn't go to Cleveland?
Will he slide down the draft board? I don't think so.
Sources close to the Orlando Magic told ESPN.com on Saturday that if the Cavs pass on Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, the Magic are leaning strongly toward selecting him with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
Sources cautioned that things could change in the next five days as the Magic continue to gather information. "If the draft was held today, Noel would be our first choice," one source told ESPN.com.
Noel, a 7-foot freshman from Everett, Mass., is a long, lithe athletic center who led the nation in blocked shots this season with 4.4 blocks per game. While Noel's offensive game is still limited (he averaged 10.5 ppg on 59 percent shooting) many NBA scouts believe he has the most upside of any player in the draft.
The Magic, according to sources, scouted Noel heavily during the season and have been doing exhaustive background work on Noel the past few months. The team believes that, with patience, Noel should end up being the best player in the draft.
Noel certainly fits a need for the Magic. Despite the strong play of second-year center Nikola Vucevic, the Magic ranked 24th in the NBA in blocked shots and 25th in defensive efficiency. Noel made a visit to the Magic on June 2 and sources said he wowed everyone despite the fact that he's still months away from playing basketball because of a torn ACL.