May 24, 2019, 9:00 pm
Hoop Ballers worldwide! Welcome to our offseason International Spotlight feature where it’s time to start shifting our attention to this year’s international rookie class.
While last year’s big board featured a very prominent NBA level talent in Luka Doncic, the 2019 international class lacks a true franchise talent but offers a pool of talent that projects to be deeper compared to previous years. And in an overall underwhelming draft class, this might play to the strength of many international guys that will be looking to impress NBA scouts and team officials in the next few weeks.
In a somewhat surprising decision, the NBA made the late decision to cancel the NBA Global Camp, a showcase for draft-eligible prospects from outside the United States that was scheduled to take place in Monaco, France from May 30th to June 2nd.
The decision to cancel the event leaves a significant void in the scouting calendar for teams and players alike. A number of international agents only elected to enter their players’ names into the draft pool in hopes they would be selected to play at the Global Camp, partially explaining why a record-breaking number of international players were on the early-entry list.
Keep in mind that International players must withdraw by June 10 while NCAA underclassmen can withdraw at any time up until May 29 while maintaining their college eligibility.
First Round & Potential Lottery
Sekou Doumbouya (Limoges, LBN Pro A – France and the EuroCup), 18 years old, SF/PF, 6’9” 230lbs, France/Guinea
Doumbouya is a tremendously raw physical talent but far from being a complete basketball player as he is still learning the fundamentals of the game and playing under a system. Still, his upside is immense.
Back in April, he announced that he would declare for the 2019 NBA Draft, making him the youngest eligible prospect as he won’t turn 19 until December 23rd, forecasting him to be the youngest player to make his rookie debut since Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013 (turned 19 on December 6th).
After a slow start to the season and a torn ligament in his right thumb that sidelined him for multiple weeks, he has been constantly improving, playing both forward positions and gaining plenty of playing time for a competitive club.
He went off for 34 points recently, also adding nine rebounds, one block and one steal while shooting 5-of-7 from behind the arc, showing why he is probably a top-15 selection. Still, he is nowhere close to playing at the NBA level and he would be a great fit for a team willing to develop him in the long run.
Goga Bitadze (Mega Bemax and Buducnost, Adriatic League and Euroleague), 20 years old, C, 6’11”, 250 lbs, Republic of Georgia
Bitadze had workouts with plenty NBA teams last summer and he was projected to get drafted somewhere in the middle of the board but he withdrew his name at the very last moment and has raised his stock during a tremendous year overseas.
After spending the first half of this season dominating the Adriatic League while averaging 20.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, he signed with Buducnost Podgorica, showing the ability to sustain his level of play in Europe’s top-tier league.
His production has translated to the EuroLeague where he ended up posting 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 13 games and four starts. He has expanded his range and showed drastic improvement in covering the pick-and-roll and he could only blossom with more freedom at the NBA level.
Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga, 21 years old, PF, 6’9” 235 lbs, Japan
Hachimura is one of the top international prospects expected to go somewhere in the top-10 after averaging 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds playing for one of the top programs in the country. A versatile forward who likes to attack the rim, he needs to develop his outside shot while questions about his size and his position at the NBA level might hurt his draft stock.
Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky, 18 years old, C, 6’10” 245 lbs, Nigeria
Bassey finished his freshman year with impressive numbers, averaging 14.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game while shooting 62.7 percent from the field but he is still weighing his draft decision after a poor scrimmage in the NBA Draft Combine where he was outplayed by second-rounders. His measurements were also smaller than what Western Kentucky led scouts to believe.
Update: Bassey has since withdrawn his name from the draft. Maybe next year.
Sagaba Konate, West Virginia, 22 years old, PF, 6’8”, 250 lbs, Mali
Konate did not receive an NBA Combine invite after appearing in only eight games for the Mountaineers this season, averaging 13.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and shooting 43.5 percent from the floor. He is undersized but has tremendous strength and impressive leaping ability and should be a defensive force at the NBA level.
Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan, 20 years old, 6’7” 215 lbs, Lithuania-Canada
During his lone year in Ann Arbor Brazdeikis earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and honorable mention All-American votes averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Iggy lined up as a four at Michigan, but will play the wing in the NBA and is a couple years away from playing at the highest level.
Luka Samanic (Union Olimpija – Adriatic League and the EuroCup), 19 years old, PF/C, 6’11” 215 lbs, Croatia
Samanic has been labeled as the next big thing and it’s hard to not be enamored by the idea of a 6’11” forward with a 7-foot wingspan who can shoot, pass, put the ball on the floor, contest shots and switch on the perimeter.
The Croatian prospect decided to leave European powerhouse Barcelona and join Olimpjia this past summer, hoping that he would have a greater chance to showcase his skills in front of NBA scouts. His decision hasn’t panned out that well as he struggled with consistency, shooting only 28.9 percent from behind the arc, and he is shaping to be another case of a European prospect that might be better suited for the NBA game. (Rodions Kurucs anyone?).
His upside can’t be ignored and he was the only non-US based player at the NBA combine last week, clearly showing his intention to work out with as many teams as possible to try and raise his draft stock.
Arturs Zagars (Joventut Badalona – Liga ACB), 19 years old, PG, 6’3” 172 lbs, Latvia
The MVP of the FIBA U-18 European Championship recently entered the 2019 NBA Draft and is considered by many as the best point guard of his generation in Europe.
Zagars was forced to sit four months from November to early March following ankle surgery due to a torn ligament but he has looked great upon his return and is getting ready to lead his national team in the upcoming FIBA U-19 Basketball World Cup 2019 in Greece.
He is a very skilled, fearless, creative playmaker and is my favorite sleeper if he remains in the draft as he played mostly for Joventut’s second team in Leb Gold (2nd Spanish Division) and not many scouts had the chance to look at him.
Climbing the Boards
Deividas Sirvydis (Lietuvas Rytas, LKL of Lithuania and Eurocup), 18 years old, SG/SF, 6’9” 195lbs, Lithuania
One of the youngest players of the class, Sirvydis is a knockdown lefty shooter with high basketball IQ and the ability to make quick decisions with the ball. He is far from a complete offensive player but he possesses very good speed and size that enables him to create separation from his opponents.
Playing on one of the top teams in Lithuania, he has been able to earn a spot in the rotation, something unusual for kids his age in Europe.
His body frame is weak but his teams like to put the ball in his hands since he’s usually able to make the “right play.” He is not a lock to stay in the draft and a lot will depend on how his workouts with NBA teams go but he fits the modern NBA and could very well receive a promise from a team looking to draft a shooter.
Adam Mokoka (Mega Bemax – Adriatic League) 20 years old, PG/SG, 6’5” 213 lbs, France
The LNB’s Pro A Best Young Player in 2018, he tested the waters last summer and after his impressive performance in Treviso’s Eurocamp he was expected to go into the second round but eventually withdrew his name in hopes of benefiting from another year playing in Europe.
Mokoka is one of the best athletes of this class but far from a reliable shooter and even though he has looked alright this year, moving to playing the point guard position full time, he hasn’t really impressed and still has long way to go.
Gytis Masiulis (Neptunas Klaipeda – LKL Lithuania and Basketball Champions League), 20 years old, PF, 6’9” 198 lbs, Lithuania
Masiulis has evolved his game in recent years, becoming more of a modern big, and his motor and basketball IQ are what make him an appealing prospect. He is a lanky kid that lacks athleticism and explosion but he has been playing solid rotation minutes in one of the main leagues in Europe, holding his ground against more experienced players and constantly improving as a shooter with an unorthodox stroke.
Gytis Masiulis (NBA draft declared) had 25PTS game which helped @bc_neptunas qualify to semi-finals in @betsafeLKL. He made 5/8 3-pointers. Another example of his ability to stretch the floor #bbaltics #teawass pic.twitter.com/qabipPyZTC
— Tadas Bulotas (@BulotasTadas) May 20, 2019
Vanja Marinkovic (KK Partizan – Adriatic league and EuroCup), 21 years old, SG/SF, 6’5” 195 lbs, Serbia
Marinkovic is clearly one of the best shooters of his generation and the most productive draft-eligible player in Europe this year. He’s averaging 12.4 points per game while shooting 35.6 percent from behind the arc.
Even though he has showcased his scoring instincts, he still struggles to create his own shot and is a below average defender. His combination of shooting, size and improved playmaking ability might earn him a look in the second part of this summer’s draft but his upside is limited and he can only be seen as a specialist. This is his last season of draft eligibility and a couple good games at the ABA playoffs have put him on the radar once again.
Falling Draft Stock
Karim Jallow, (Ludwigsburg, BBL League, Germany and EuroCup), 22 years old, SF, 6’7” 206 lbs, Germany
Defensive versatility and 3-and-D potential are the main reasons the German forward has been scouted pretty heavily over the last couple of years and he is a consistent shot away from been considered a solid second-round prospect. Jallow is auto-eligible and for now is projected to be a second rounder or to go undrafted, depending on how much teams like him. He could be a steal in the 2nd round.
Amine Noua (ASVEL, LBN Pro A – France and EuroCup), 22 years old, PF, 6’8” 200 lbs, France
Noua has been a favorite of scouts in recent years due to his polished play combined with excellent confidence and feel for the game. He projects to be an ideal role player at the NBA level. Playing on the same team for the second year, he hasn’t really taken the extra step mainly due to his shot not falling and this is another example of a player who should have stayed in the draft last year.
Names to Keep An Eye On
Paul Eboua (Roseto Sharks, Serie A2 Basket of Italy), 19 years old, SG, 6’8” 214 lbs, Cameroon
Eboua looks like one of, if not the most, intriguing prospect of his class due to a gifted combination of length and athleticism. He has been on the NBA radar the last couple of years but what has raised his stock recently is his flexibility to travel to US and work out for teams way before Draft night. Playing in a lower division he had his ups and downs and remains too raw and mechanic at times but his upside is high, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
Arturs Kurucs (Baskonia, Liga ACB and Euroleague), 19 years old, SG, 6’5” 190 lbs, Latvia
The brother of Rodions Kurucs is already in the radar of many NBA teams.
Marko Pecarski (KK Partizan – Adriatic League and EuroCup), 19 years old, PF, 6’10” 220lbs, Serbia
Marko comes from a basketball family and looks like a perfect fit for the modern NBA with his versatility and shooting ability combined with the size to play in the paint. He is a one-dimensional offensive talent who struggles to create his own shot and is not strong enough to protect the paint but he could end up being a useful rotation big in the NBA. Draft and stash candidate.
Yovel Zoosman (Maccabi Tel Aviv – Ligat HaAl of Israel and Euroleague), 20 years old, SG/SF, 6’6” 198 lbs, Israel
The MVP of the 2018 FIBA U-20 European Championship is a long and hard-working kid with a 7-foot-wingspan and an all-around game, able to defend four positions on the floor. Unlike most European teams who fail to give playing time to their youngsters, Zoosman has been given the opportunity to play major minutes in his domestic league while gaining meaningful experience in the EuroLeague. He was inconsistent at times and struggled with his shot, making him another stash candidate if he declares this year.
Abdoulaye N’doye (Cholet, LBN Pro A), 21 years old, PG, 6’7” 183 lbs, France
N’doye recently submitted the paperwork to include himself in the 2019 NBA draft after averaging 6.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 34 games and 27 starts in a tough French league. His defensive versatility is what makes him special while he has also worked on his 3-point shot and it remains to be seen whether he will be able to impress NBA teams.
Joshua Obiesie (s.Oliver Würzburg, German BBL and Europe Cup), G, 6’6” 190 lbs, Germany
Obiesie only joined Wurzburg in December and played 20 games this season but he made a good impression, especially at the EuroCup. He is a combo guard who has split time at point guard, shooting guard and even small forward but struggled badly at the Nike Hoops Summit and is far from a finished product.
Borisa Simanic (KK Crvena Zvezda – Adriatic league and EuroCup), 21 years old, SG/SF, 6’10” 220 lbs, Serbia
Simanic is definitely someone to watch due to his 7-foot wingspan even though he has been an underachiever the last couple years. He showed some flashes of the player that everyone thought he would be and had his moments in the ABA League Finals, where he showcased his athleticism, versatility and shooting range.
Laurynas Birutis (Zalgiris Kaunas, LKL Lithuania and Euroleague), 21 years old, C, 7’1” 214 lbs, Lithuania
Birutis is a tall, mobile big man who offers upside due to his size. He was named MVP of the regular season in 2018 but after a positive start to his campaign he underwent knee surgery and didn’t really have the chance to show what he can do at the highest level this season.
Thank you for reading this article and please make sure you tune back next week as we keep examining this year’s international class. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @philysstar for any fantasy or dynasty trade talk and stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.