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The 5 Biggest High-Risk, High-Reward Prospects In The Draft

Each Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2013 NBA Draft are faring in draft evaulations. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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With just eight days before the 2013 NBA Draft, teams are getting in their final group workouts, having select prospects in for second visits for individual interviews, and getting prepared for the big day. There are lots of rumors, drama, and smokescreens to sift through this week, which is par for the course.

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.

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ONE: What Do We Know?
The international early withdrawal date came and went this past Monday (June 17) and there were a few prospects that decided to stay overseas, thus removing their names from the 2013 NBA Draft. Overall the concept of calling this an “early withdrawal” is funny in and of itself, seeing how the college athletes had to make a decision about two months ago.

Dario Saric (Croatia), Mouhammadou Jaiteh (France), and Norvel Pelle (LA City Prep) were the draftable names that elected to withdraw their names from the draft.

Of those three, only Saric was a potential lottery pick with top-five talent, while Jaiteh and Pelle were late second-round projects. The draft loses a little depth, but is not fatally injured with these prospects removing their names from the draft. The international class is still very strong with Rudy Gobert (France), Dennis Schroeder (Germany), Sergey Karasev (Russia), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) all as locks for the first round.

TWO: What Do We Not Know?
This week there was a lot of information leaked out about Nerlens Noel and how his camp has been “handling” him so far in the draft process. Early on, his camp stated he was only visiting the top two teams in the draft, but then adjusted that to visit the Washington Wizards. It took him longer to hire an agent while reportedly spurning and “blowing off” other agents during the process. That is irrelevant from a basketball perspective, but what it shows is that the company Noel is keeping has firm control over him.

With elite talents you can put up with immaturity, an entourage, and other unsavory off-the-court issues. Is Noel going to be a great player? In addition to that, can you afford to take a player that high with those types of red flags?

THREE: Stock Rising
As the workouts have progressed, Isaiah Canaan has been impressing teams at nearly every stop to the point that his name is being considered for a late first-round pick. Over the years, there has been a trend of teams selecting a steady backup point guard to add leadership late in the first. George Hill (2008), Greivis Vasquez (2010), Norris Cole (2011), Cory Joseph (2011) and Marquis Teague (2012) all had rises similar to that of Canaan this year. (Range: Between 25-40)

Keep reading to see whose stock is falling…

FOUR: Stock Falling
Throughout the season, scouts and pundits were very high on Kelly Olynyk from Gonzaga. He is a very talented shooter from the four/five position that bulked up to play in the paint as well. Olynyk has the offensive ability to play at the next level and he is an above-average athlete. But his lack of length and defensive intangibles will be the difference in teams selecting Olynyk or Mason Plumlee, Steven Adams or even Gorgui Dieng. (Range: Between 10-20)

FIVE: Quick Hitter
One week away from the 2013 NBA Draft, there is still no consensus at the top (three different No. 1s in four major mocks), in the lottery (18 different lottery picks), and throughout the entire first round. It is all over the place and there is no set mock draft that knows it all. They are all over the place with guessing, smokescreens and sensational efforts for views. Hard to get your thumb under this draft? Imagine how it is for those covering it from day one.

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Top 5 Potential High-Risk, High-Reward Prospects (Listed High-To-Low)

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo: 6-9, 196 pounds – Int. (1994), Greece
Range: 15-25
His length and versatility are unique for his size as a three, but with point guard skills. He has flashes where you think “Tracy McGrady” but others where you forget he is on the floor.

2. Ricky Ledo: 6-6, 192 pounds – Fresh., Providence
Range: 25-35
Great shooter, and potentially a great scorer that was compared to Kevin Durant in high school. He’s undervalued in this draft. He is not necessarily the next Durant (obvious size difference), but if he can approach that level of impact, he will be a steal.

3. Nerlens Noel: 6-11.75, 206 pounds – Fresh., Kentucky
Range: 1-5
Despite his skill level, there is still a level of risk with Noel due to his strength, frame, limitations on offense, and the issues mentioned above with his “handlers.”

4. Archie Goodwin: 6-5.25, 189 pounds – Fresh., Kentucky
Range: 25-35
On pure talent, Goodwin is a lottery pick in any draft with the potential to be a lockdown defender. He has elite speed with the ball in his hands.

5. Tony Mitchell: 6-8.75, 236 pounds – Soph., North Texas
Range: 18-28
The best athlete in this class with the versatility to defend three positions, score in transition, and make plays on the glass still has question marks with his offense and basketball IQ.

There is a fine line when drafting a risky player that has talent, but has other red flags that make him more of a high-risk, low-reward selection. This year there are a few of those types in the first round that are going to make some general manager look very smart and get others fired.

Who are the biggest risks in this draft?

Follow Kristofer on Twitter at @NBADraftInsider.

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