2012 NBA Draft: Predicting the Biggest Risers on Draft Night

Scott CournoyerContributor IIIJune 27, 2012

2012 NBA Draft: Predicting the Biggest Risers on Draft Night

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    As the 2012 NBA draft nears, players are rising and falling all over the map.

    The last few months have been taxing on the prospects involved, each of them desperately searching for a team to take a chance on them. For others, the draft—expected to be one of the most viewed drafts in quite some time—will be the inevitable culmination of all their hard work in getting to the NBA. 

    Here are five guys whose values are rising, for a variety of reasons.

    Enjoy the show!

5. Mike Scott, Virginia

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    Player's stocks are certainly rising, but none may be skyrocketing upward more than Virginia's Mike Scott.

    Scott recently finished up visiting 17 cities while on tour to wow NBA execs and scouts. Although he is just one of many players aggressively showcasing his skills, Scott is receiving a lot of praise

    After sitting out his entire senior year and redshirting due to injury, Scott came back strong in 2011-12, posting 18.0 PPG to go along with 8.3 RPG for the Cavaliers. He was also in the discussion for the ACC Player of the Year honors. 

    Scott possesses very good offensive instincts, recognizing his spots on the floor and being able to add touch to his perimeter shot. His low-post game, although not completely developed, is coming along and has the potential to improve. 

    ESPN's Chad Ford ranks Scott as the 33rd best draft prospect and projects him to go 38th overall to the Denver Nuggets (subscription required).

    Keep an eye on Scott as he tries to become the first Virginia Cavalier to be selected in the draft since Sean Singletary in 2008.

4. Miles Plumlee, Duke

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    As recently as a month ago, Miles Plumlee wasn't even discussed as a draft option for most teams.

    Oh, how things can change. 

    After reports of terrific workouts with NBA scouts, Plumlee is making his way up draft boards, predicted anywhere from the end of the first round to the the middle of the second. 

    Plumlee performed well for Duke this past season, clocking 20 minutes per game off the bench and averaging 7.1 RPG during his playing time. He has a high motor, but with all the bigs that were available for the Blue Devils, scouts didn't get the best look possible from Plumlee.

    According to DraftExpress.com, Plumlee is barely listed under seven feet (6'11.75"), but possesses a giant wingspan at nearly 7'1" that tops North Carolina's Tyler Zeller's. Although his offensive game is still a work in progress, Plumlee's defense improved during his senior season.

    Anytime you're seven feet tall, scouts notice. They are also more tempted to take the risk on you versus on someone else at the same draft spot with less upside.

    Plumlee has dramatically improved his draft status over the course of the last couple of months. Don't be surprised if he gets drafted as high as in the late first round.

3. Dion Waiters, Syracuse

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    This year's draft features a variety of big men who can make a difference. 

    Having said that, scouts rave about his potential and Dion Waiters could be one the few guards to create instant success at the next level.

    Waiters poured in 12.6 PPG as a sophomore for Syracuse this past season, helping the program to another NCAA tournament appearance while also improving his own game.

    Waiters has a great frame (6'4", 221 pounds) that will help translate to the NBA. His positives include his ability to take his man off the dribble, keep an up-tempo offense and work on the break, use pick-and-roll in the halfcourt set, and create turnovers at the defensive end.    

    Waiters seems like the complete package, and because there are so few viable guards projected in the early part of the Round 1, a team may move up to get him. 

    Waiters has put together excellent workouts for scouts recently, and because of that, expect him to move up the draft boards come selection time. 

2. Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut

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    Typically, the longer you stick around in college, the more and more NBA scouts collect on your game.

    Sometimes, the decision to stay—Jared Sullinger, for instance—hurts your value more than it helps. For others, rationale comes into play, and scouts realize what’s going on underneath the surface if a player fails to live up to expectations.

    Jeremy Lamb is one of those such exceptions to the rule. In fact, staying may have raised his stock.

    After exploding onto the college scene as a freshman and helping Connecticut capture a national championship in 2011, Lamb was expected to do more this past season. Lamb failed to live up to the hype, however, quietly performing in the latter half of the year while virtually disappearing from the NCAA tournament.

    Normally, when a player fails to develop and show subtle improvements in his game, the scrutiny falls back on that player. However, in Lamb’s case, scouts may be giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    Lamb’s game suffered after losing point guard Kemba Walker to the last draft. UConn was at the center of a series of NCAA violations that will result in a one-year NCAA tournament ban for the program.

    This past season for Lamb was surely chaotic (maybe even unbearable, at times) as the program struggled to save face. At the same time, Lamb never had a chance to develop without a viable and experienced point guard.

    Lamb is projected to go in the top 15, something that may not have been expected as recently as a month ago. The fact that Lamb didn’t live up to expectations hasn’t hurt him, so expect his rise to continue.

1. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky

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    Of any player coming out for this year's NBA draft, no one's value may have risen more over the last month than Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

    After helping the Wildcats win the 2012 national championship, Kidd-Gilchrist instantly was mentioned as one of the players to watch out for if he decided to declare for the draft. His 11.9 PPG and 7.4 RPG has scouts oozing with joy, knowing that he is still raw and has tons of potential to tap into.

    In his workouts, he had all the scouts saying the same positive things: great work ethic, will die to improve his overall game, and is a great defender already.

    According to Kidd-Gilchrist himself (via News Herald), the 18-year-old has modeled his game after one of the best players ever, Scottie Pippen. However, the youngster will have to develop his mid-range shot to create space if he's going to live up to his own expectations.

    Sources say that Kidd-Gilchrist worked out for the Charlotte Bobcats recently as the team preps for its No. 2 selection. Kidd-Gilchrist has impressed everyone through every stage of the draft process, so expect him to go anywhere in the top 10.