NBA Draft Risers and Fallers

Being on the rise on the eve of an NBA Draft is akin to starring in the NCAA Tournament championship game. It pretty much doesn't matter what else you've done in your life. One night is about to change everything.

Take Iman Shumpert, for example.

For three seasons, the highly touted guard underachieved at Georgia Tech. His career shooting percent was under 40, and he connected on an embarrassing bad 27.8 percent of his 3-pointers last season.

No wonder he wasn't in anybody's first-round mind-set at season's end.

But then came the invaluable NBA examinations and now there's no hotter prospect. His size (6-foot-6, 222 pounds), jumping ability (42-inch vertical) and wingspan (6-10) have stamped him as someone who has the potential to impact an NBA game at both ends of the floor.

Not bad for a guy who probably still can't shoot.

Thursday night, it won't be a total shock if Shumpert gets drafted in the lottery. A second-round projection not long ago, he's now a very good bet to go in the top 20.

As the draft approaches, he's playing the best ball of his career ... without really playing much at all.

His timing is impeccable.

Here's my last list of the very fortunate (last-minute risers) and unfortunate (fallers) as teams compile their final lists for the draft.

Risers and Fallers - Dave Del Grande -- (Updated 6/22/2011)
1.Stock Rising
Derrick Williams
PFArizonaNo, I'm no longer projecting the Arizona standout to go No. 1 in the draft. He's solidly slotted at No. 2. But sometimes being second-best has its advantages. Several quality teams are talking trade with the Timberwolves, which would really make Williams' night.
2.Stock Rising
Tristan Thompson
SFTexasI had him on this list two weeks ago when he was working his way into the lottery. Now he's taken the next step. Several analysts are now projecting him as a Top 10 pick as the foreign big men continue to slide. No one has taken better advantage.
3.Stock Rising
Iman Shumpert
PGGeorgia TechOnce you get past the top four point guards in the draft (I'll throw Jimmer Fredette into that group), it's anyone's guess who will be the next selected. Some are high-potential youngers. Some have had great college careers. Some have a lot of experience. And then there's Shumpert, who can jump. At this late stage, the latter seems to be the most important asset.
4.Stock Rising
Nikola Vucevic
PFSouthern CaliforniaEnes Kanter likely will get picked ahead of other foreign big men because he went to college - albeit a short stay -- in the United States. And now Vucevic, who not long ago was considered to have far lesser skills than his international rivals, seems to be moving up the charts for the same illogical reason.
5.Stock Rising
Reggie Jackson
PGBoston CollegeThe Boston College star stopped working out for teams a while back, which has everyone presuming he's gotten a guarantee from someone. If it's from Oklahoma City, as seems to be the consensus, he should consider himself a very lucky man.
1.Stock Falling
Kemba Walker
PGConnecticutHe seemed the perfect pick for the Raptors (that's where I've slotted him) until the club named defensive-minded Dwane Casey its head coach this week. Now Toronto is much more likely to opt for size and defensive ability, two things that aren't on Walker's otherwise impressive resume.
2.Stock Falling
Jonas Valanciunas
PFInternationalSome would say he's on the rise because some top-tier NBA teams are trying to move up to get him now that his buyout status (he might not come to America until 2012) is scaring away clubs with immediate needs. If he doesn't get snatched up in a trade, the latter could cost him a suitcaseful of American dollars.
3.Stock Falling
Bismack Biyombo
PFInternationalWhen the NBA extended its initial invitations to attend draft night and wait in the "Green Room," the big man from the Congo who is pretty much universally mocked in the lottery wasn't on the list. What does David Stern know that the rest of us apparently don't?
4.Stock Falling
Nolan Smith
PGDukeFor every Iman Shumpert, there's a Nolan Smith. You know, a guy who actually did something in college. You've got to love an NBA draft, where a guy who can jump shoots up the charts while the Player of the Year in a major conference freefalls in the opposite direction.
5.Stock Falling
Matt Howard
FButlerHow does a productive player like Howard wind up at a small school like Butler? Well ... apparently the same way he's going to wind up in an NBA training camp without a guaranteed contract. As NBA scouts are learning, the more you watch him play, the more you realize: Wow, this guy really isn't very good.
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