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Scouting Tobias Harris, Malcolm Lee

Updated: April 14, 2011, 3:52 PM ET
By David Thorpe

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.

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