In a draft that lacks consensus elite talent, the movers and shakers of the class continue to be sorted out. Draft boards remain in flux, mocks providing only the faintest glimpses of different scenarios that could play out in the coming weeks.
With all that said, few names have garnered more attention from NBA scouts recently than Georgia wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a unique combination of size and skill lacking in most of this year's prospects.
A 6'6 shooting guard at Georgia, Caldwell-Pope offers the height, length and athleticism to be an effective two-way wing at the next level. Though he struggled to carry a mediocre Bulldogs team to major success, his ability to play within the offense and find efficient looks was impressive for such a talented player.
It appears those efforts caught the attention of NBA executives, too. In the latest mock draft from ESPN's Chad Ford, Caldwell-Pope is projected to be selected 10th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers, up nine spots from his previous edition published weeks ago.
Ford noted that few players have boosted their stock more than Caldwell-Pope:
Right now, Caldwell-Pope is one of the fastest risers on NBA draft boards. He is a terrific shooter and a very good athlete. While the Blazers already have Wesley Matthews, adding Caldwell-Pope to the mix gives Portland great depth in the backcourt.
Even now, it feels like there's still room for further improvement in his draft stock. Three other wings -- Kansas' Ben McLemore, Georgetown's Otto Porter and UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad -- are all projected to go ahead of Caldwell-Pope in the draft. Though it's unlikely he'll be the first guard off the board, it wouldn't be shocking if he was able to pass Muhammad in the eyes of some teams.
During his sophomore year at Georgia, Caldwell-Pope averaged 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and two steals per game. His assists numbers were lacking due to inferior teammates, but he substantially improved his offensive efficiency after a shaky freshman year.
With so few options in this draft truly standing out, Caldwell-Pope becomes a highly intriguing option for many teams given the increased importance placed on wings who can shoot and defend. If he can be a committed defender and continue his development as a shooter, few players in this draft project as nicely at the next level.