As some of the better draft-eligible players are deciding whether to enter the draft, more than just the lottery teams are watching and waiting anxiously for them to make a final decision. NBA teams have to draft somebody when their picks come up, of course, so as the draft pool shrinks when top players don't enter lower-ranked players move up the draft boards.
That is why we can't ever suggest that a certain player is not worthy of a No. 20 pick, for example, because that pick can provide varied degrees of talent from year to year. In 2004, the 20th pick was Jameer Nelson, and Tony Allen was 25th in a very deep and talented draft (only four of the top-20 picks didn't stick). In other years, such as 2006, a smaller pool of talent at the top allowed players such as Cedric Simmons, Patrick O'Bryant and seven other top-20 picks to hear their names called on draft night but never amount to much in the NBA.
So this year, first-round-bubble guys, according to pure lists of who the best draft-eligible players are, stand to move up a great deal, thanks to those top players not entering the draft. That helps their draft status, but does it mean they'll end up being long-tenured NBA players? Let's look at two cases -- one freshman and one junior -- and analyze what they have to do to reach and stay in the NBA.
To read David Thorpe's scouting reports on Tobias Harris and Malcolm Lee, you must be an ESPN Insider.