It's ruined more NBA franchises than Clay Bennett, Ron Artest and Toni Braxton put together.
It's the undefinable characteristic that sends every scout into hysterics.
These days, it's not enough to judge a potential NBA prospect on his current skills. It's imperative to judge how good he might be down the line.
Since no current NBA general manager is in possession of a crystal ball, chasing upside can be a dangerous proposition. But each year, a handful of front offices will succumb to the temptation.
Take a look at the 2005 draft, for instance. Everyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the draft that year knew Chris Paul and Deron Williams would turn out to become legitimate NBA point guards.
Granted, few of us expected Paul to become the next Isiah Thomas or Williams the next Jason Kidd, but it was abundantly obvious that each player had all the tools to succeed in the league.
Former Orlando GM John Weisbrod was in a similar spot in 2004, except with much more on the line. The Magic had won the draft lottery and had their choice between A) an NBA-ready center with highly advanced shot-blocking skills and a 2004 national championship trophy on his mantle, or B) a physically imposing high schooler who had never played anyone who could challenge him.
Weisbrod pulled the trigger on the high schooler. People killed the pick. How could he pass up on the next Alonzo Mourning?
The pick ended up being Dwight Howard. Last I checked, he's better than Emeka Okafor.
Drafting players on an upside basis is a total crap shoot. For every Darko, there is a Dirk Nowitzki. For every Howard, there is a Kwame Brown.
What does this mean for the 2008 Upside Brigade? Headlining this list is the enigmatic DeAndre Jordan. The massive Texas A&M center skyrocketed as high as No. 3 on the NBADraft.net mocks this fall, with his 80 percent field-goal shooting and rim-rocking dunks.
However, Jordan makes Shaquille O'Neal look like Mark Price at the free-throw line, and his questionable work ethic and motor remind scouts more of Kwame than Howard.
After some impressive early season showings, Jordan's motor sputtered and stalled down the stretch of the Aggies' disappointing season, but his intriguing combination of size and athleticism still piques the interest of those near the tail-end of the lottery.
Anthony Randolph is another upsider who may or may not achieve his best-case scenarios. The rail-thin forward out of LSU was one of the hot under-the-radar prospects for much of the year on an underachieving Tigers squad. Despite his team's lackluster performance, Randolph developed into a force on both ends, displaying natural shot-blocking ability and solid rebounding skills.
LSU seems to churn out these athletic power forwards on an assembly line, but judging from how Stromile Swift and Tyrus Thomas have fared in the NBA thus far, scouts are hesitant to fully commit to Randolph.
Still, look for Randolph to find a spot in the top half of the lottery.
Italy's Danilo Gallinari is another foreign prospect looking to ride the upside train into lottery city. Like most European players, Gallinari is a fundamentally sound prospect with great shooting range. He spent most of the year in the middle of our mock lottery, but scouts seemed to have cooled on him, partially because fellow Italian Andrea Bargnani took a step back in his sophomore season.
Gallinari will still get a long look from anyone between Nos. 6-14 in this draft.
Odds are, these 2008 upside picks will cost at least one GM his job. If the pick pans out? He will be considered a genius.
What is the most effective way to navigate the uncertain upside terrain? Do your homework, use common sense and load up on ulcer medication.
For mock drafts and in-depth player scouting reports, go to nbadraft.net.