When looking at the available players in the NBA Draft pool, GMs look at their potential targets the same way we look at a dinner menu.  You have your safer picks, your "chicken parms" if you will, and then you have your more risky but high rewarding dishes like your sauteed goat and asparagus.  With the chicken parm, you know what your going to get, while the goat can go both ways- either deliciously mouth watering, or simply a mistake.  Below I put together a list of the highest risk/reward players looking to be ordered, or drafted later this week on draft night…

Lance Stephenson – "Born Ready", one of the most hyped high school prospects entering last season, had a forgetful freshman year in which Cincinnati neglected to remind folks that they also play in the Big East.  However, Lance missed a lot of shots in college with teams focusing their attention on the young high profile first year guard. He’s got that "shake you off the dribble and pull up" feature to his game that transforms good players to great players.  If those shots start falling for him on a consistent basis, whatever team that drafts will be rewarded.  If his 22% percentage from downtown, combined with his 44% from the field become an annual theme, well…you might hear the term, "woops" used by a few scouts and coaches.

DeMarcus Cousins –  A long and strong giant, Cousins has the offensive skillset, defensive presence and rebounding tools to be one of the premier big men in this league some day.  With soft hands and post moves, a shooting touch and the ability to get to the line, Cousins talent level is among the top 4-5 in this draft.  Along with his desirable basketball qualities, Cousins also has the ability to dish out unwanted headaches to his coaching staff.  At times he has the body language of teenager going through puberty, as his antics could be harmful to more than just himself.  Cousins has the talent to stand out at the next level, but his desire and focus must improve for him to achieve that.

Paul George – George wasn’ t seen in the living rooms’ of most college basketball fans around the country, but he was seen by many pro scouts who love the combination of the words smooth, athletic and NBA Range.  He’s a versatile scorer who can light it up from the outside, or throw down a dunk that lights up youtube.  He has that Danny Granger/Rudy Gay potential scoring ability, and is the type of guy who can really make teams who pass on players to fill a need rather than taking the best available player, look pretty dumb.  At the same time, he played against weaker competition than most potential lottery picks, and struggled at times while somewhat disappearing throughout long stretches of games.  Regardless, if he lands in the right situation, he could be a fixture at the 2 or 3 position for a long time.

Gordon Hayward – Hayward has all of the skills a lottery pick should have.  He can create, shoot and rebound, and was a halfcourt shot away from leading his team to an unlikely National Championship.  The only problem with Gordon is that he’s built like a chemistry student as opposed to an NBA athlete, and some question what position he will be able to guard.  His three point shooting percentage dropped considerably this past year, so he will have to show he can knock down the three ball with greater consistency.  If he can find a position and show he can hit that jumper, he’ll have a long career ahead of him.

Jordan Crawford – Athleticism and big time leaping abilities, along with impressive ball handling skills and serious NBA range, combine to make Crawford the prolific scorer that he was in college.  Crawford loves being the number one option, which will not be the case in the NBA (at least not right away).  Jordan will have to learn how to play the complimentary scoring role before he can play the go-to scorer.  He’s not considered a great playmaker for others, and he lacks a threatening size at the shooting guard slot to guarantee himself production at the next level.  However, he’s simply too good at putting the ball in the basket, and if he figures how to blend in with his team and be effective without 20 plus shots,  well then folks, we have ourselves a steal.

Hassan Whiteside – Whiteside is one of those guys who has the potential to be the center in a team’s rotation for many years… or the guy who every little kid asks their dad, "whose the big guy in the suit sitting next to all the players every night?" He’s beyond raw and lacks the maturity you hope to see, but if he learns the game, Whiteside has the qualities to be a force on both sides of the ball.   

Terrico White – I’d say your definition of combo guard, White is a crazy talented athlete who can shoot and handle the ball.  At his best, he’s a lottery pick.  Unfortunately, he’s not always at his best, which is why he’s labeled as a risk/reward type player.  He’s got that motor that just burns out from time to time- not something you want when you drive your vehicle through an 82 game season.  However he’s got all the tools in the toolbox.  If he could just figure out when to use each one for it’s respective task… look out NBA.

Eric Bledsoe – Bledsoe had a phenomenal year shooting the ball at Kentucky, although lost opportunities to dominate the ball with John Wall running the show.  When he did play the point, he looked a little shaky in the playmaking department, but capable.  If Bledsoe can’t figure out how to play the point, he might have trouble finding a position at the next level.  What Bledsoe has going for him is that he’s a straight up basketball player, so making the transition from creating for himself as opposed to creating for others could be a smooth and successful one.

Willie Warren – About a year ago we were talking about a potential lottery pick- a talented and gifted scoring combo guard who helped Blake Griffin and Oklahoma win a whole lot of games.  Now, after an inconsistent year in about every category including attitude, Warren finds himself hoping he’s lucky enough to hear his name called in the first round.  Warren has the ability to score on a one on one basis with unteachable quickness and explosiveness. There have been rumors of a bad attitude, and truths to a ridiculously high turnover rate at almost 4 per game.  His team was not very competitive with Warren as the top gun, but if drafted by the right coaching staff, Warren could be a prolific scorer off the bench for a team who lacks that extra punch.

Daniel Orton – For a guy who averaged 3 points and boards per game in his one and only college season, Orton is sure getting plenty of mid first round attention.  Forget the 3 points, he only played 13 minutes per game!    Despite his lack of production in college where he played behind the likes of Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins, Orton has all the tools to become another steady player at the center position for a team who lacks depth at the 5, which is almost everyone these days.  He’s got strength and touch to score around the rim, but is 13 minutes per game too small of a sample size?  Looks like some team in the first round is willing to find out.



  1. Ppl seem to forget Bledsoe
    Ppl seem to forget Bledsoe AVERAGED 11 assist per game in HS, once he gets back into the flow of running the PG position he will be fine, dude has all the tools(Speed,Quicks,Strength,Leaping Ability) to succeed.

  2. watching interviews with these guys is interesting
    the guys who seemed mentally/emotionally questionable were stephenson, whiteside, and bledsoe…people were ragging on cousins’ interview, but i thought he was good – he said twice that he thought gasol was the best post player in the league, which shows he’s got smarts and is paying attention
    stephenson was almost scary, talking about wanting to be a lawyer because he “likes to argue”…the thing is, he wasn’t trying to be funny! he is a nice one on one player, but is a trainwreck waiting to happen

  3. Stephenson has potential, but
    Stephenson has potential, but he needs to be in the right system. Like all the questionable character guys they need the right coach to set them aright. I can see Doc Rivers as being the perfect coach for any of these guys, given how well has has managed to coach a bunch of egocentric players into a cohesive unit. A rookie coach would struggle with Stephenson I feel because he wouldn’t have that respect. I made this argument on my blog ( but if the Lakers picked Lance up he could have a bright future. The combination of Phil Jackson as coach and Kobe Bryant as mentor would be potent for someone as talented as Stephenson.

    I’m very curious about how these players will develop, and I love these sorts of articles.

  4. Risk
    There’s not a lot of risk picking in the second round like picking lance stephenson in the second round isnt that risky isnt like your leavin better talents on the table .. picking in the lottery is always a risk .. so people shouldnt use the word risk too losley ..

  5. Aren’t they forgetting someone?
    I think they missed the biggest potential high reward player in the draft: Dexter Pittman. Although most mock drafts have him going in the latter part of the second round, he has the potential to be amazing in the NBA if he is able to become a motivated and conditioned athlete. His raw skills are incredible. I realize that he hasn’t shown much in college. Hopefully, the potential to earn tens of millions of dollars will be enough incentive to get him to perform to his potential.

    On a side note: on NBA TV they were replaying the 2003 NBA draft. During the end of the first round, one of the reporters broke the news that Miami had offered the player they drafted with their #5 pick, a future 1st Round pick and cash to the Washington Wizards for the 2001 #1 pick Kwame Brown. Eddie Jordan, then coach of the Wizards, stated that he thought that Kwame had too much potential and didn’t want to trade him away for the unknown and Miami would continue to try to work out a trade. Who had Miami drafted with the #5 pick? None other than Dwayne Wade.

  6. I’d be shocked if Pittman was
    I’d be shocked if Pittman was more than a mediocre 2nd C for a team. He’s not going to be a high reward player I don’t think.

    I can’t believe Favors isn’t listed, and Luke Babbitt isn’t either surprisingly.

  7. Lance Stephenson
    While it is true, Stephenson has the abillity to be a solid pro, there are too many red flags. He seems to be a bit of a head case, and a Ron Artest/Ruben Patterson type where he dribbles the ball to death and kills offense for the rest of the team… and were/are also head cases. With his size strength and athleticism, has potential to be lock down defender.

    I completely agree with WD40 on Aminu, I just don’t know if he has the perimeter skills to succeed. However, he improved a great deal in college, so he seems to work hard. Who says he won’t do so i the league?

    I personally love Derrick Favors. At 6’10 245, Amare like leaping abillity, can put it on the floor and attack for a dribble or two, and what I always find to be the most enamoring about a big power forward prospect is he is ACTIVE and tough. That aspect gives you a high ceiling low floor for me. If nothing else he can block shots, rebound and dunk… that’s all Dwight does and people call him Super Man

  8. 11 assists? wow
    who in college didn’t average 11 assists or 20 points in high school lol, it means nothin. The point is when he got to college, and went against other good players he didnt produce AT ALL. Putting up big numbers in high school isnt much cuz you could be playing against bums or in a small group. Hell kwame brown averaged 40 a game in high school and gerald green looked like nba talent.

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