Even though the 2013 NBA draft is fast approaching, player evaluations are far from set. No prospect's position is safe; draft boards are subject to change every day.
So who are the latest to see their draft stock improve?
Below are three of the most recent risers in this year's draft, including a potential first-round choice, a likely lottery pick and a possible first overall selection.
Tony Snell, SG/SF, New Mexico
Not everyone considers Tony Snell a surefire first-rounder. ESPN's Chad Ford has him ranked 36th on his latest big board. However, Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears said multiple league executives confirmed Snell's draft status:
It's easy to see why there could be dissent among opinions. While he shot 39 percent on three-pointers last season, Snell shot just 42 percent from the field overall. Also, despite being an extremely athletic 6'7" wing, Snell isn't a great rebounder, averaging just 2.6 per game last season. The good thing for Snell is that his weaknesses, inside scoring and rebounding, will improve as he gets stronger.
NBAdraft.net's latest mock draft has Snell going 19th overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He could likely fall back to a team like the Utah Jazz at No. 21 or move up even higher to the Atlanta Hawks, who could be looking for a wing player at either No. 17 or No. 18.
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
If you consider C.J. McCollum to be more of a combo guard, then the only true point guards likely to be drafted in the first round are Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke. Burke's stock had been higher, with the Michigan guard even earning consideration for the second overall pick.
However, his stock may have peaked, giving Carter-Williams an opportunity to stake his claim as the best point guard available. Chad Ford's big board may have dropped Carter-Williams, but that is more a result of others moving around him than his own stock. And while he may still be behind Burke, the gap is quickly closing.
In fact, Ford himself said many teams now have Carter-Williams higher than Burke. One reason was because of advanced stats:
Sources say a number of teams that rely heavily on analytics have Carter-Williams rated higher than Burke. While both players look good in the various analytical approaches teams employ, Carter-Williams is coming up at No. 1 and No. 2 overall on several teams' reports. For teams that value analytics, that's a big deal.
Another reason why was the ultimate draft buzzword—upside:
[T]eams are always looking for upside in the lottery. Carter-Williams has extraordinary size for his position. He is a terrific athlete. He sees the floor as well as any point guard in the draft. His weaknesses—primarily his shaky jumper—are the only thing holding him back from being a top-five pick right now.
Ford mentioned on his big board that the Sacramento seems to be favoring Carter-Williams over Burke and that he's "firmly in the mix for both the Kings and Pistons." Either team, at Nos. 7 and 8, respectively, look to be likely landing spots for Carter-Williams.
Alex Len, C, Maryland
No one's draft stock seems to be rising as quickly as Alex Len's right now. Just after the NBA draft lottery revealed the event's order, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix had Len as a solid lottery pick, going No. 10 to the Portland Trailblazers.
Now, SBNation's look at recent mock drafts from Sports Illustrated and others reveals that Len has an average projected draft position of 5.6. However, Len's rise may not be finished. After Len met with the Trailblazers, they tweeted that the big man was in contention for the top pick:
Chad Ford reiterated this, saying both Len and Otto Porter could knock Nerlens Noel off the top of the draft board. While Noel is still the best bet to go first, the buzz surrounding Len is still both legitimate and warranted. As Draft Express' Jonathan Givony pointed out, if Len recovers from his ankle injury and the team that drafts him is patient, he could develop into a solid big man worthy of this pre-draft hype.
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