February 12, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) against the Florida Gators during the first half at the Stephen C. O

Nerlens Noel the next Dikembe Mutombo


I remember when I was a kid, the Nuggets drafted a center with a flat top hair cut who dominated the game defensively. Dikembe Mutombo would go on to lead the Denver Nuggets to the greatest upset in playoff history over the Seattle Supersonics. The 1994 Denver Nuggets were the first ever number eight seed to beat a number one seed in the playoffs. Dikembe Mutombo was a fan favorite and every kid in Colorado had his jersey. He is probably the greatest center in Nuggets history and still beloved by fans.

Fast forward to the 2013 NBA draft, the best available player is a defensive center with a flat top who could take the Nuggets to the next level. Nerlens Noel a shot blocking monster who could bring star power to Denver. He’s everything you want defensively. The problem is he brings very little offensively and is coming off an ACL injury. But let’s remember that Dikembe never really took over a game offensively. No he would just dominate the paint blocking every shot that came his way while wagging his finger.

Noel was the number one high school recruit. He was suppose to replace Anthony Davis and lead the Kentucky Wildcats to another national championship. Unfortunately he tore his ACL midseason and his stock has been dropping ever since. He went from a lock as the number one pick to scouts questioning just how good he can be. Many people consider this draft class to be amongst the weakest in years. There are rumors daily of teams trying to unload their picks and either get 2014 first rounders or established players. This is a golden opportunity for the Nuggets to use their depth to acquire a star.

So how do the Nuggets get in position to draft Nerlens Noel. Well you base a deal around Javale Mcgee, Jordan Hamilton, and the Nuggets 2014 first round draft pick. Yes I know next year’s draft is loaded, but you’re not going to get a player of Noel’s talent in the late twenties of the draft. Javale Mcgee is an athletic freak but, has never had the hype or potential of Nerlens Noel. Jordan Hamilton is a gym rat full of potential but there are just not enough minutes for him in the Nuggets rotation. Nerlens Noel is worth the risk, plus you don’t have to rush him back because last year’s starter Kosta Koufos is still on the roster.

So come on Nuggets gamble a little bit and take the next Dikembe Mutombo. In a draft very similar to the 1991 draft the Nuggets choice should be Nerlens Noel. They don’t need the high scoring small forward from UNLV. Anthony Bennett is good but he’s no Larry Johnson. The Nuggets should trade up to bring  the  young defensive center with a flat top to Denver. This is the way Josh Kroenke can show fans he is serious about bringing a championship to Denver.

Tags: Denver Nuggets Dikembe Mutombo Kentucky Wildcats NBA Draft Nerlens Noel

  • Jon-Michael DeShazer

    Great read, however I’m going to have to disagree with you on a couple of points.

    I would say Dan Issel is hands down the greatest center in Nuggets history. That is by no means taking away what Dikembe did in his time here. But Issel was here as a player longer than Mutombo and was a much more proficient scorer and lead his team to a longer run of success than Mutombo. Dan Issel is still 9th on the NBA/ABA all-time scoring list, and was 5th when he retired nearly 30 years ago, and is one of a handful of former Nuggets enshrined in the Hall of Fame (class of ’93).

    Dikembe had a much more solid offensive game than what is being given credit to in this article in my opinion. Sure he was awkward to watch at times, and there were about 10 other centers at that time who could score better, but he had great footwork in the post and averaged over 16 points a game in his Nuggets as a rookie (for example) when they won 20 games and he was their featured offensive player. That was in the era before the zone defense was instituted and post players were the dominant position of the NBA. He played during an era when the center position was likely it’s deepest in its history, with the likes Hakeem, Shaq, Ewing, Robinson, Parrish and Mourning on a nightly basis.

  • Bobby Gonzales

    Thanks I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes Dikembe first few years his points per game were fairly decent but every season they declined. No one remembers his offensive moves only his blocks. As for Dan Issel he was a great center but if it were not for Bernie Bickerstaff letting Dikembe go Mutombo would clearly have been the better player. Also no one in Denver wants Issel around the franchise while Dikembe is cheered by the fans to this day despite not playing long as a Nugget