NBA

2012 draft: Boom or bust prospects

Jon Crispin predicts the first five picks of the NBA Draft.
Jon Crispin predicts the first five picks of the NBA Draft.
NBADraft.net JONATHAN WASSERMAN
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One of the most challenging decisions for NBA evaluators is weighing risk versus reward. Projecting ceilings and basements while measuring the likelihood of each is an integral part of the draft evaluation process. Depending on the direction of a team and its current personnel, prospects with towering upside who remain vulnerable to underachieving could be unappealing as a top selection, especially when you consider the value of a high pick.

On the other hand, teams looking to roll the dice might want to take a chance on a "Boom or Bust" prospect, with the hopes that their ceiling is reached and a star is born in time. Here's a list of some of the riskiest yet most rewarding prospects in the 2012 NBA draft.

Andre Drummond, 6-11, C, UConn, Fr.

While it's not as black and white as Kwame Brown or Dwight Howard, Drummond's projections land at the opposite ends of the spectrum. On one hand, if Drummond develops some go-to moves and revs up that motor, he becomes the immediate focus of a defense's attention. A guy the opposition game-plans for. A double-team requirement. Then again, if he fails to develop offensively, he becomes limited to finishing and clean-up duties. Though nice to have, that but doesn't justify top-five value.

Perry Jones, 6-11, PF, Baylor, Soph.

We look at Jones and see incredible potential based on the height of a center and athleticism of a guard. And not only that, but Jones can play the game. He's a good basketball player. The issue is whether or not Jones can strategically use his strengths to exploit the mismatch he presents. He could end up being like no player we've seen. Or he can end up lost between positions, like Anthony Randolph.

Jeremy Lamb, 6-5, SG, UConn, Soph.

Lamb is the most dynamic perimeter scorer in the field when you consider his ability to create and make shots out to 25 feet. We've seen glimpses of explosiveness attacking the rim off two feet. Plus his midrange game is well refined. But his competitive drive isn't overwhelming, and neither is his frame. Lamb could be vulnerable to getting pushed around by stronger, meaner two-guards, which would restrict him from getting within 15 feet of the rim. On the bright side, 15-25 feet is his area of comfort. On the dark side, more than half of his field-goal attempts came from behind the arc, where he shot a disappointing 33 percent.

Terrence Jones, 6-9, SF/PF, Kentucky, Soph.

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Few players can match his physical dimensions and skill set. At 6-9, 252 and with a 7-2 wingspan, Jones has the ability to run the floor and create. He's an automatic matchup problem for opposing teams, due to his ability to face the basket and pull opposing big men away from the paint. But questions persist about his motor and focus. His body language is not always the greatest and he's had a few meltdown games in which his mental state appeared to be somewhere between Neptune and Pluto. If he realizes his potential he's a top-10 prospect, but he also has a real bust potential which has his stock somewhere in the mid-first round area.

Meyers Leonard, 7-1, C, Illinois, Soph.

On paper, the kid's tools could build a skyscraper. He's 7-1. A developed NBA body. Athletic and talented. But centers are always vulnerable to underachieving due to a drastic transition process playing inside. At the college level, baskets come easy for 7-footers, primarily because their defender is generally 6-10 or smaller. At the pro level, Leonard will be required to body up against stronger, more athletic men his size. Leonard could end up being a top-three scoring option, or if he could end up as a backup space-eater. The difference between a steal and a reach.

Royce White, 6-8, SF, Iowa State, Soph.

NBADRAFT.NET

For more analysis of all the picks and trades, check out NBADraft.net.

A unique game with enormous talent, White could be mismatch or a misfit. A small forward with point guard instincts and power forward strength, White could take on an array of responsibilities. White could overpower small forwards and beat power forwards off the dribble. Or it could work the other way, in which SFs are too quick for him and PFs are too big.

Quincy Miller, 6-10, SF, Baylor, Fr.

He's got lottery talent to go with a size advantage at the 3 position. His high school ACL injury prevented him from turning the corner on his defender, forcing him to develop a solid midrange game. If he ever gains back his explosiveness, Miller could end up with the full-offensive halfcourt package. If he struggles to separate from NBA defenders, generating points on a consistent basis could be a challenge at the next level.

Tony Wroten, 6-6, PG/SG, Washington, Fr.

Wroten's athleticism is tailor-made for basketball, and at 6-6 he's the ideal shape and size for a guard. He needs to work on a specific craft, whether it's shooting or playmaking, but this combo of size and athleticism could propel him to another level. Then again, we've seen other phenomenal athletes who haven't cut it in the NBA.

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