Jan 14, 2014; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward Noah Vonleh (1) drives to the basket against Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Getting to Know: Noah Vonleh

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Getting to Know: Noah Vonleh

With draft day drawing ever closer, it’s an apt time to take a look at the players that the Lakers could potentially draft with their first round pick at the end of the season. Whilst none of the standings are set in stone (aside from the likelihood that the Milwaukee Bucks will finish with the worst PCT in the league), it currently looks as if the team will end the year approximately fifth or sixth in the “tank rank”. If so, there’s a good chance that Kupchak and co. will decide to draft Noah Vonleh. The Massachusetts born power forward has slowly crept up the mock draft rankings since the start of the college basketball season and is now touted to be chosen higher than his fellow forward rival, Julius Randle.

Jan 14, 2014; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward Noah Vonleh (1) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Upon first look, Vonleh’s physical stats serve as a strong ground to build upon when he joins the NBA. His monstrous 7’-4” wingspan and 6’-10” height grant him great versatility when attempting to play at either small or power forward and these traits shine through with his efforts on the boards as he averages 9.3 rebounds per game in just 25 minutes. He’s also a very efficient scorer and a great free-throw shooter hitting .535% and .717% from the field respectively in these categories. Whilst his post game remains a work in progress, Vonleh’s frame should soon allow him to make this goal a reality and with his great work ethic, the sky really is the limit.

Whilst his sheer potential is undoubtable, his ability to reach such a high level of play is in question. Before this season, he was said to have a number of confidence issues which stopped him from developing at as fast a rate as he could have done. Whilst he’s handled expectations well this season in Indiana, the NBA will certainly offer a number of new challenges that he may have difficulty adjusting to if he doesn’t believe himself that he can overcome them. However, don’t count Noah out yet. Tom Crean, the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, told ESPN that Vonleh is a “great student of the game” and that he “doesn’t get caught up in the rest of the freshman class getting more hype than he is”. If he does have issues relating to his self-belief, this apparent work ethic could play a key role in helping him overcome these issues.

Although these confidence issues serve as the primary roadblock in his NBA career, Crean has also stated that his “low maintenance” attitude makes him an attractive asset for a number of coaches. He’s not a player that gets caught up with the furore of the profession and he is said to have a quiet personality. This makes him highly coachable, although his leadership capabilities are questioned as a result. It has been argued that he could do with developing a little more aggression into his game and that if he can show a little more ruthlessness at both ends of the court, it would pay dividends to his team. His body frame and physical capabilities would certainly allow him to add this type of explosiveness into his game, another feature that his offensive style certainly lacks.

Jan 21, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; /Indiana Hoosiers forward Noah Vonleh (1) and Michigan State Spartans forward Matt Costello (10) fight for loose ball during the 1st half of a game at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Whilst Noah Vonleh probably wouldn’t be able to lead a Lakers group or bench upon his first arrival into the NBA, there’s certainly a chance that he could become a go-to guy in the years to come. His overall game is at an advanced stage for someone of his age although there is enough substance within his raw game to allow him to develop for years to come. His high basketball IQ and great work ethic could well allow him (one day) to become a leading forward in the NBA and let’s hope that he can do this for Los Angeles. Hell Mike, he even shoots the three well.

 

Pro’s

  • Natural body. 7’-3” wingspan allows him great room for development.
  • Great work ethic.
  • Strong post game at such a young age.

Con’s

  • Will he regress into a state where his confidence once again effects his progress?
  • Could he ever lead the Lakers in a city that likes its leaders to have great character?
  • A tad too soft?
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