Three top NBA draft prospects now out for extended periods of time with injuries

Jeff Bottari

The list of injured frontcourt draft prospects grows to three. And now we weep.

First it was Nerlens Noel. The extremely talented center for Kentucky had long been a likely No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft and even though his team underwhelmed fans and analysts across the country, but things got even worse when Noel tore his ACL in February. Fortunately for Noel, his draft spot likely won't slide much, if at all, due to his skills, promise, timetable to return, improving treatment and rehabilitation for such injuries and, sadly, the talent joining him in the pool.

That's not to say this class is awful, but it does lack that surefire hit of a player. Each player has their weaknesses that holds them back from wooing scouts to go head over heels at this point. And it doesn't help that two of the top frontcourt prospects have now joined Noel in the injured ranks.

A few days ago, the Washington Post announced that Maryland center Alex Len had undergone successful surgery to fix a partial stress fracture in his left ankle. He will be out 4-6 months, thereby missing all pre-draft workouts and possibly going into the beginning of his season.

And just today, UNLV's Anthony Bennett's agent announced that the power forward will miss up to four months to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, via ESPN's Chad Ford. That includes pre-draft workouts and summer league.

But like Noel, it seems at this point that the injury may not affect Bennett's draft stock too much. Ford said he spoke with a few GM's for lottery teams who said the surgery wouldn't affect their decision much. However, it's rather sad and a bit incredible that Bennett actually had shoulder pain since late February and played through it. UNLV's medical staff diagnosed it as inflamed nerves with no structural damage. Alas. As for Len's ankle injury, I'm not a doctor privy to great information so I can't speculate one way or the other on his injury. But teams deathly afraid of drafting an injured center with a high lottery pick will probably be a bit hesitant in evaluating him now.

Regardless, scouts and talent evaluators for teams don't weigh everything upon the draft workout. The player's body of work from college and high school and AAU and Europe (or what have you) play a major part of how highly they're thought of. A great workout may push an opinion past the threshold of who they want to pick, but it's not the only factor.

Though losing this portion of their pre-draft evaluations is disappointing, it's hardly a death knell for their future in the NBA.

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