Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Noah Vonleh | 2014 NBA Draft Profile
Indiana | Freshman | Power Forward/Center | 6-foot-10 | 245 lbs
2013-14: 26.5 MPG, 11.3 PPG, .523 FG%, .485 3FG%, 2.0 RPG, 0.6 APG, 1.4 BPG, 0.9 SPG
Editor’s Note: Throughout June, Timberwolves.com will profile a series of prospects that could be available at Minnesota’s No. 13 pick, or if they choose to be mobile during the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26. Part VI highlights Indiana center Noah Vonleh and his lone season with the Hoosiers.
Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh is an intriguing prospect for numerous reasons. He’s young, for one, and he’s got a nice frame and wingspan at his young age that makes his upside promising. He’s able to score inside, and he can hit from 3-point range. He put up impressive rebounding numbers in his lone season with the Hoosiers, and he also can shoot with high efficiency.
Now, the question is how Vonleh can be used at the NBA level. Not only how do teams feel he fits, but how he feels his skill set will translate to the NBA level.
“I think a lot of teams see me as a stretch 4, but really I want to be able to play the 3 in the league,” Vonleh said at the Draft Combine last month. “I’m just going to keep working on my skill to get to that point.”
That might be a stretch to move to the small forward position, but Vonleh certainly is versatile. He’s a player who could definitely mix between the 4 and the 5, thanks to his length, size, agility and shooting ability. He said he doesn’t necessarily agree with any comparisons between himself and current NBA players, but he does see a little bit of himself in Chris Bosh because they can both step outside and shoot the 3, and he sees a little bit of himself in both Paul Millsap and LaMarcus Aldridge because of how they play inside.
He’s a player who believes he can immediately make an impact rebounding at the NBA level.
“I rebound at a high rate—rebounding is natural for me,” Vonleh said. “I handle the ball pretty well for a guy my size. I’m pretty good in the post, also. I think that will translate, and I’ll add different things to my game as I get there.”
Right now, Vonleh said he’s working on his footwork in the post and his ball handling. He wants to get his shot off quicker and show that he can shoot with efficiency from beyond the arc as he moves into the NBA game.
Vonleh said his work ethic is something that will help him achieve those goals.
“I’m trying to show how versatile I am,” Vonleh said. “I can play different positions, cover different position. Show them how to handle the ball, play inside and out.”
Vonleh won’t turn 19 until August, so he’ll still be a teenager when he enters camp. He’s got incredible upside because of his youth. His 6-foot-10, 245-pound body with his 7-foot-4 wingspan at 18 years old means he’s got great upside with his frame at a young age. Physically, he can jump into the NBA right away. He’s able to move well and can make plays inside. His agility and quickness allows him to run the floor in transition, and he really does have nice touch around the basket. Vonleh can face up, and he also has good range for a big. He shot 16-of-33 from 3-point range in his lone season with the Hoosiers, meaning he didn’t step outside often but he did so with great efficiency. Vonleh has a nice mix of strength and agility that makes him an interesting prospect for an NBA front court.
Whichever team drafts Vonleh will need to work on his offensive polish around the rim. He does have range, but his moves around the basket are still pretty raw and will need some work. He tends to commit unforced turnovers, and is sometimes not decisive with his shot selection. Vonleh is not a player who will play above the rim, so his technique will be important in being able to handle rebounding and scoring at the rim. On the defensive end, he’ll need some work getting prepared to use proper positioning when handling his perimeter duties at the NBA level.
THEY SAID IT
“It was the right time. I always wanted to play in the NBA. I talked to my parents, and it was the best situation for me to leave after this year.” — Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh on leaving Bloomington after one season
WHAT HE CAN BRING TO THE WOLVES
Vonleh is a special player who has the size and length, youth and range that could help him translate well to the next level. He’s a player who could step in and be able to handle the physicality of the NBA early in his career, and he’d be able to run the floor well if he is able to get out in transition. He’s deceptively quick for his size on the fast break. Vonleh did not take a lot of 3-pointers in college, but he was efficient with the ones he did take. That ability to stretch the floor with that shooting touch is a nice trait for a big in the league. His 7-foot-4 wingspan means he has the length to contest shots inside, which is another nice area to bolster on a roster as long as he’s able to shore up his technique in that department.