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NBA Draft 2013: Breaking Down First-Round Prospects with Boom-or-Bust Potential

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NBA Draft 2013: Breaking Down First-Round Prospects with Boom-or-Bust Potential
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Every year, NBA teams are faced with a choice with at least one prospect who falls in the "boom-or-bust" category on their draft board. 

Do you go with a "safer" pick who will give production, or take the risk of finding a diamond in the rough who might turn into an All-Star with the right coaching, development and framework of success in place?

It's the age-old NBA draft question—trust your scouting and take a chance on talent, or risk backlash if he doesn't pan out the way a first-round prospect is supposed to?

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the 2012 NBA draft, there's a reasonable number of prospects who will hold this designation later in their careers, including guys like Houston Rockets forward Royce White—without an NBA game on his resume after a drama-filled year—Perry Jones III of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dion Waiters of the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

This year's 2013 NBA draft class has a little bit of everything: There's no true "star," but there are a number of players expected to contribute right away and others who are a ways away from putting in consistent minutes at the next level. 

As we break down the risk vs. reward model, here's a look at a few prospects teams will hover above the red button for before making a decision that could change their franchises fortunes forever. 

 

2013 NBA Draft Information

When: Thursday, June 27, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, N.Y. 

NBA Draft Order: Cleveland Cavaliers own No. 1 pick; full list here (via NBA.com). 

2012 NBA Draft No. 1 pick: New Orleans Pelicans F/C Anthony Davis

 

Prospects With Biggest Boom-or-Bust Potential

G/F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece

This Grecian combo player first grabbed headlines as a 6'10" point guard with first-round talent, but as we've studied him more, it seems unlikely that his NBA future lies strictly in taking care of the ball. 

That's red-flag No. 1, but there are so many positives that you really have to study this kid on tape and make a decision about his future potential for yourself. 

With a body that looks like Kevin Durant's and an ability to handle the ball like Rajon Rondo, Antetokounmpo's name might be a mouthful, but his game is a much bigger pill to swallow. Where the heck does he project in the NBA?

Personally, concerns about on-ball defense and physical play will need to be addressed. So will the fact that he won't be playing against guys who are a foot shorter than him on a regular basis—guys like Durant, Paul George and Andre Iguodala are helping redefine the idea that bigger is better in the starting lineup. 

According to ESPN's Chad Ford, he also has a first-round promise:

Ford also said in his latest big board ("insider" access required) that most scouts feel that he is lightyears away from contributing at the NBA level, which really drives home the point that it might be a mistake to hemorrhage away another talent in the first round ready to compete right away. 

This stat from ESPN's Ryan Feldman might also alarm you: 

We're getting another chance to see this young man in action, as he's currently playing for Greece's U-20 team. Another excellent profile of what he brings to the table comes from ESPN's Fran Fraschilla ("insider" access required). 

We're starting to get more familiar with his game, and when that comes, the "mystery" label about his talent starts to fade away. Antetokounmpo is a true boom-or-bust candidate because the extreme leap of "B" leagues in Greece to the NBA will be hard to adjust to right away. 

 

PG/SG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh

C.J. McCollum Player Profile

I'm leaning toward "boom" when it comes to Lehigh's standout, four-year combo guard, but he still qualifies as a candidate for this category because he's considered one of the top guards on the board—likely a lottery selection. 

He shouldn't get past the Utah Jazz at No. 14, but Milwaukee, Boston and Atlanta are also all intriguing options outside of the lottery mix. 

In over 100 career games with Lehigh, McCollum averaged 21.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. His size (6'3") lends to the idea that he's a point guard, but his scoring and rebounding chops lend a favor to the Jason Terry, Louis Williams arguments about his future potential. 

C.J. McCollum Lehigh Stat Breakdown

He compares himself to Stephen Curry (via Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune):

A foot injury derailed what promised to be an outstanding senior season—McCollum was averaging close to 24 points through 12 games and might have been a top-five pick with another NCAA tournament run. 

As it is, he's a lottery prospect, and he's a good one—but those expectations, coupled with the idea that finding mid-major talent these days has been given added value, makes McCollum an easy choice for several different NBA draft categories. 

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Sleeper picks is another, as is future NBA Sixth Man of the Year candidates. 

Guys like Damian Lillard and Curry have added to the legend that mid-major scoring champs now get when they enter the league. Although I love McCollum's game, something about him screams boom-or-bust when you factor in lottery placement and the fact that there aren't many guards hovering to take his place at the top of the board. 

His status as a four-year man at Lehigh and strong pre-draft workouts have cemented the fact that this young man has talent, but talent only gets you so far in the NBA. One thing is for sure—this is a prospect you should pay attention to during the first few years of his career. 

I expect a little bit of a learning curve, and how he responds to that curve could be the difference in being an O.J. Mayo-type player, or a Curry one. 

 

SF/PF Tony Mitchell, North Texas

Eric Francis/Getty Images

SLAM magazine's DeMarco Williams has the Atlanta Hawks taking Tony Mitchell at No. 18, but the general consensus surrounding the two-year North Texas standout is that he will fall a little bit further down the board. 

A rough sophomore season for the Mean Green forward was characterized by what scouts have called motor issues. SI.com's Chris Mannix posed the question in an earlier draft preview:

However, the combo forward averaged over 13 points and nine rebounds over his two seasons at North Texas, added 2.9 blocks per game and could stretch the floor from the three-point line when necessary. 

Mitchell has do-it-all potential, which is likely why Williams thinks he's a replacement candidate for Josh Smith in Atlanta. 

His draft stock is boosted by the idea that his athleticism will win out in the end and allow the game to come to him over the course of his career, but as we've seen with players like Gerald Green, that in itself is a huge developmental process. 

Ford had a look at his place among high jumpers in the standing vertical at the NBA combine to prove that the athleticism is really there:

Mitchell draws comparisons to Kenneth Faried coming out of college, but unlike the Denver Nuggets forward, concerns about defensive intensity and playing hard on every play are there. Those who've seen Faried play don't question those things at all. 

Troubling shooting percentages from the floor (.440), the three-point line (.300) and the free-throw line (.675) in his sophomore season also cement the idea that other Sun Belt teams were able to put together an effective scouting report on him. Early on, his shooting percentages were .567/.439/.739.

There's no doubt this young man has talent, but playing in a smaller conference on a struggling team has done no favors to the idea that he's ready to be a Faried-type player and fill a void in the starting lineup with energy and consistent hustle that outlasts the other nine guys on the court. 

Teams need to be wary of Mitchell's intensity, but they can't ignore his talent. Like the ones above, this guy is a hard one to peg. 

Luckily, we don't have to—NBA teams will take care of that for us. We'll see if they make the right decision or not when it comes to draft night later in June. 

 

Honorable Mentions

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

C Rudy Gobert, France

PG/SG Nate Wolters, South Dakota State

SG Ricky Ledo, Providence

 

Follow Bleacher Report FC Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter. 

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