The 2013 NBA draft is less than two months away, and in that time, countless prospects will be evaluated for every strength and weakness they possess. Scouts will dig into their pasts off of the court, scrutinize their on-court weaknesses and determine, by any means, if their franchises will incorporate these prospects into their futures.
The question is, which of these prospects are the most polarizing for scouts and general managers to evaluate?
Certain players have the ever-important upside, but haven't quite put it together on the court. Others have the skill to go high in the draft, but may drop due to character issues that have scouts concerned.
After all, a draft pick is not just an endorsement—it's an investment.
Unfortunately, it's not as easy as writing a player off for an NBA franchise, as the concerns don't always outweigh the benefits. For that reason, a player such as Andre Drummond, Perry Jones III or Jared Sullinger can see his stock fall or benefit from a team's early gamble.
So who will those players be in 2012-13?
Anthony Bennett, UNLV Rebels
There are few players with as high of a ceiling as UNLV Rebels power forward Anthony Bennett. With that being said, there is no player in this draft that embodies the phrase, "Boom or bust," quite like Bennett.
Not only is he polarizing, but he's a major risk.
Bennett has all of the physical tools you can ask for, standing at 6'8" and 240 pounds with a 7'1" wingspan. He's also a tantalizing athlete with explosive leaping ability and the caliber mobility to run in transition.
With that being said, inconsistency and injury could play a key role here.
According to Chad Ford of ESPN, Bennett recently underwent surgery to repair a rotator cuff injury in his left shoulder. The procedure was successfully completed, but any health issue will throw up a red flag.
The hope here is that the ailment is why his production dipped so significantly during the second half of the 2012-13 college basketball season.
Bennett tallied eight double-doubles during his first 17 games. He proceeded to pick up four double-doubles during his final 18 games.
In turn, his motor and ability to translate elite physical gifts and three-point range into stardom are under question—it's boom or bust here.
Archie Goodwin, Kentucky Wildcats
When you evaluate Archie Goodwin as a prospect, everything about him suggests that he has star potential. The physical gifts are in place to create dominance per his playing style, while his weaknesses are all correctable.
Even still, he's a late-first-round prospect.
Goodwin stands at 6'5" and 195 pounds with a 6'10" wingspan. As a slasher with high-quality ball-handling skills and an uncanny ability to finish in traffic, Goodwin certainly appears to be a prospect with a high upside.
Unfortunately, his shot selection, lack of bulk and ball security are all concerning.
Goodwin can play wild and turn the ball over, but those are coachable traits that disappear with experience. As for weighing in at 195 pounds, Goodwin has the frame necessary to reach roughly 220 pounds and eliminate those concerns.
In reality, Goodwin isn't very polarizing at all—scouts are just skeptical after how poorly the Kentucky Wildcats performed in 2012-13.
Pierre Jackson, Baylor Bears
Pierre Jackson stands at 5'10" and 180 pounds, which inevitably has him labeled as a player somewhere in between Nate Robinson and one destined for a career in Europe. The truth of the matter is, Jackson is a legitimate NBA point guard in terms of raw ability.
If he were just a few inches taller, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.
Much like Robinson, Jackson has limitless range on his jump shot and plays a strong, physical brand of basketball. His quickness is blazing and his leaping ability is out of this world, as he's been measured with a vertical jump of 44".
The separating factor here is that Jackson, who averaged 7.1 assists, is also a high-quality facilitator and a pesky, rugged defender.
Jackson ripped off double-doubles in four consecutive games to end his college career, thus leading the Baylor Bears to an NIT championship win. During the final 12 games of his career, he averaged 22.5 points and 8.7 assists.
This young man can play, folks—he just has an uphill battle due to his size.
Alex Len, Maryland Terrapins
You could make the case that Maryland Terrapins center Alex Len is the most polarizing prospect in this year's draft. Despite possessing the physical gifts and skills to become the next great big man, his motor and drive have both been questioned.
You can coach skills, but no one but the player can control his passive nature.
It's not as if Len doesn't try on the court, as he'll always give a quality effort. The issue, however, is that he too often defers to his teammates and fails to capitalize on the skill advantage he possesses.
With his reliable mid-range jump shot, a budding back-to-the-basket attack and a quality left hand, it's puzzling that he'd do so.
Much like Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol, Len can create for those around him or take it himself. As a high-quality passer out of the high post, Len certainly appears to be a player who could have a strong career.
Unfortunately, the passive nature that Gasol often displays is present in Len's makeup—does any team want to use a top-10 pick on that type of mentality?
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