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The NBA Draft Stock Market: Risers and Fallers

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In a draft with as much parity and depth as this one, a lot can change--and fast.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

With new mocks and reports coming out constantly, it's probably a good idea to stay on top of the rising and falling stocks of some prospects of interest.  Here are some notes:

Denzel Valentine

Previously thought of as a lottery pick, some medical concerns from a high school knee injury have him sliding down boards, sometimes into the 20s (23rd in the DraftExpress mock, 18th by Sam Vecenie for CBSSports, and 27th by Kevin O'Connor).  Health issues can always tank prospects, whether they end up materializing or not, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Valentine drop--but it only takes one hopeful team in the teens to stop a slide.

Paul Zipser

Zipser, who was a no-name second round prospect that I liked when I did my first pass on scouting reports, has really emerged in the last couple of weeks, winning MVP at the Adidas Eurocamp and generating good buzz.  He's moved up to 33rd in the DraftExpress mock (which would make him a Clipper) and 34th in CBS Sports'.

Ante Zizic

The center from the Adriatic league is generating some extra buzz, likely due to the recent success of Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic coming out of the same league.  While he's been seen as a late-first guy in most mocks, Sam Vecenie has moved him all the way up to 12(!), saying that he's hearing more early-mid teens than 20s for Zizic.  He's just 19 years old and has announced that he will be joining his NBA team next season, so it makes sense that his value would be on the rise.

Isaiah Cousins

A combo guard who played alongside Buddy Heild at Oklahoma, Cousins hasn't received a ton of draft buzz--he's undrafted in Vecenie's mock, and just 53rd in DraftExpress'.  O'Connor has him listed at 56th on his big board, but here's the thing: he worked out for the Clippers, and they really liked him, so much that Steve Kyler has him penciled in for them at 25 in his newest and admittedly-shaky-looking mock.  I'd caution that it's very easy to imagine the Clippers "liking" Cousins, while still liking some other no-brainer names like Timothe Luwawu (who falls past the Clippers in Kyler's mock) more.  I have no problem with the Clippers' staff identifying some guys who they feel are going to be the steals of the draft--but he's a steal if you get him in the 40s or 50s, not if you reach so majorly that he has to be good to avoid it being an awful pick.

Furkan Korkmaz

At not-even-19-years-old, Korkmaz certainly didn't need to stay in this draft if he was unsure about his stock--but he did.  Most people are expecting that he would have had to have received a promise in the teens in order to stay.

Malachi Richardson

His numbers are awful, but the one-and-done Syracuse wing has the polished skills that are boosting his stock in workouts, and a fringe prospect has emerged in the last month as a really likely top-20 pick.  I don't hate Richardson as a prospect and I don't want him to fail, but he scares me enough that I'll be perfectly happy to watch him go ahead of the Clippers, helping someone else drop.

Thon Maker and Zhou Qi

These two prospects are similar in strange ways--both have undeniable, tantalizing upside, and both aren't even at NBA role-player level yet.  Qi has to spend at least one more year in China, but then a buyout would be possible.  Maker doesn't have to worry about any of that--but he'll probably be taking up a roster spot and developing for at least 2-3 years.  Both of these guys are going to get late-first looks (and maybe earlier) from teams with multiple picks due to their potential, and it's hard to see either falling past Boston at 31 and making it to the Clippers at 33... which might be a good thing.

Stephen Zimmerman Jr.

It wasn't too long ago that Zimmerman was seen as a first-round pick, occasionally popping up at 25 to the Clippers.  Now, he's slid to 43 on DraftExpress and 50 on CBS.  Anything can happen on draft night, but it's been really interesting to watch a guy who would have been a solid pick at 25 a month ago fall out of that range, and then out of the Clippers' 33 range into the mid-late second round.  This kind of movement shows part of why the draft can be such a crapshoot--maybe if we had another month of workouts, interviews, and speculation, someone like Zimmerman could rise back up at the expense of another surprising drop.