NEW YORK — Nerlens Noel is coming off a major knee injury. Alex Len is in a walking boot.
One of them could be the No. 1 pick today in an NBA Draft that appears short on stardom, and neither looks ready to get his career off to a running start.
"This draft is really unpredictable, a lot of guys with injuries and you don't have any, like, LeBron James," Len said Wednesday. "So it's going to be interesting."
Ten years after James climbed on stage to start a draft that goes down as one of the best in recent memory, the No. 1 pick again belongs to Cleveland.
The Cavaliers won't find anyone who can play like James on the court — if they keep the pick — and even the climbing the stage part will be a challenge for the big men who opened their college seasons against each other and are competing again now.
Noel tore the ACL in his left knee on Feb. 12, ending his lone season at Kentucky. The 6-foot-11 freshman led the nation in shot blocking and his conference in rebounding, but hasn't shown growth in his offensive game.
Len, the 7-1 center from the Ukraine who spent two seasons at Maryland, has climbed into the mix at No. 1. His left foot started bothering him around February, and he found out after the season that it was a stress fracture. He no longer needs crutches but will be in a boot for perhaps two more weeks.
Orlando has the No. 2 pick, followed by Washington, Charlotte and Phoenix.
Kansas' Ben McLemore, Indiana's Victor Oladipo, Georgetown forward Otto Porter and national player of the year Trey Burke of Michigan are among the other players who will hear their names called early at Barclays Center by NBA Commissioner David Stern in his final draft.