November 14, 2020, 3:34 pm
HoopBallers worldwide! Welcome to our International Spotlight feature where we preview this year’s international rookie class!
The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously affected the NBA Draft, which was originally scheduled for June 25th, then tentatively moved to October 16th and now set for November 18th. The cancellation of March Madness and most of the European leagues, as well as and the decision to postpone the event itself, left a significant void in the scouting calendar for NBA teams who had to settle for live or taped video feeds of player workouts and online interviews with potential prospects. As you already know, the international scene is traditionally very volatile as young players fail to see heavy minutes at the upper tiers of European competition and top ranked prospects get a lot of hype from scouts and draft experts, something that doesn’t always translate to success at the NBA level.
Last year’s international class was a pretty weak and not particularly deep batch of prospects, but the 2020 international class has more prospects even though there is high concentration of guards and forwards.
Remember, Draft Guide or FantasyPass subscribers get access to our full draft previews, featuring more scouting notes, possible landing spots and fantasy outlooks for over 70 prospects, including the international players we’re discussing today! Feel free to check that out here and get access to all that HoopBall has to offer!
Here is the complete breakdown with the relative information on the preliminary projections for each prospect based on what we’ve seen so far.
Tier 1: Lottery Picks
Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israeli Premier League and the EuroLeague), 19 years old, SG/SF, 6’9” 225 lbs, Israel
Avdija was the MVP of the FIBA U20 Tournament last year after leading his Israeli team to the gold medal and he followed up this success by becoming the youngest MVP in the league’s history this past season, averaging 12.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game in 33 games.
He is a versatile player with good size who can play as a guard or forward while holding his ground on defense and he likes to attack the basket even though he is not the best athlete. Avdija has played basketball for eight years already and has a high basketball IQ, possessing great patience feel for the game. He has been getting a lot of praise and some experts have him going as high as in the top-3 but my humble opinion is that his ceiling is not that high and the truth of the matter is that he has struggled playing in the EuroLeague, where a lack of shooting and strength against bigger, more experienced players exposed his weaknesses.
Projection: Top-5 pick
Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, German BBL and the EuroCup), 19 years old, PG/SG, 6’5”, 195 lbs, France
Some off-court turmoil affected Hayes’ stock at the beginning of the season as he refused to play for the French U20 team, which led to his six-week suspension from the French League and his decision to transfer to the German League, where he was having a great season playing major minutes against far more experienced players.
Scouts have been impressed by his performance and he has been climbing the boards mainly due to the unique combination of size (6’8” wingspan), strength, ball-handling skills, vision and footwork, which allow him to create either for himself or his teammates. He is one-dimensional and he will have to work on his right hand as well. Shooting, turnovers and defense are the main areas of concern as he makes the transition to the NBA.
Projection: Top-10 pick
Tier 2: Potential Lottery Picks
Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos B and the EuroLeague), 19 years old, F/C, 7’0”, 200 lbs, Serbia
One of the most fascinating prospects of the 2020 NBA Draft, Pokusevski has a massive 7’3” wingspan and plays more like a guard rather than a power forward or center because of his ball-handling and shooting ability. He is a lanky kid with an amazing combination of instincts, IQ, and athleticism, and his ability to handle the ball and run the court helps him manufacture mismatches.
Teams have fallen in love with his potential even though he needs to develop his frame in order to play in the NBA. We are likely a couple years away from seeing him play regularly but he has a high ceiling which will likely force a franchise to reach for him.
Projection: Draft stock has been falling, could slip into the second round
Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona and the EuroLeague), 20 years old, SG/SF, 6’7”, 185 lbs, Argentina
It has been challenging for many NBA teams to evaluate the Argentinian due to a lack of playing time, especially against major competition — no surprise for a youngster in EuroLeague play. In the limited tape, Bolmaro has shown signs of defensive toughness, intangibles and playmaking ability. Shooting remains suspect and he lacks some strength, but the potential is there for him to be a legitimate combo guard with terrific size on the NBA level.
Projection: End of first round
Tier 3: Expected to be Drafted
Theo Maledon (ASVEL, LNB Pro A and the EuroLeague), 19 years old, PG, 6’5”, 180 lbs, France
Maledon won a gold medal at the 2016 U16 European Championship and a silver medal as French captain at the 2018 U17 World Cup, while he debuted for the senior team at the 2019 World Cup qualifiers. A traditional point guard who shows great maturity for his age, he plays the pick-and-roll at a high level, has adept court vision and passing instincts and is a great on-ball defender. Maledon is not an elite athlete and hasn’t shot the ball really well from deep, but he still has shown more than enough to command attention, especially due to his ability to successfully run a team.
Projection: Draft stock has been rising and teams like his long-term outlook
Yam Madar (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israeli Premier League), 19 years old, PG, 6’3” 180 lbs, Israel
Madar is one of the younger prospects heading into this year’s draft after being selected as the most improved player of the Israeli league last year. A smart, heady combo guard who has shown the ability to shoot and pass, he is a great on-ball defender and a fierce competitor who will have to compensate for his lacking athleticism with speed, quickness and decision-making.
Projection: Also on the rise and he might have a promise somewhere in the second round
Abdoulaye N’Doye (Cholet, LBN Pro A), 22 years old, PG/F, 6’7” 183 lbs, France
N’Doye’s workouts with NBA teams last year didn’t go that well and the French guard returned home where he had a solid season, playing 30 minutes per game and shooting very well from behind the arc. His size and defensive versatility make him a special prospect and his lanky, versatile body with a 7’3” wingspan could provide NBA teams with a solid secondary playmaker.
His defense is ahead of his offense at the moment but he can run the point and play as an off-ball defender, making him a potential jack-of-all-trades.
Projection: Immense upside makes his draft stock extremely volatile
Paul Eboua (VL Pesaro of the Lega Basket Serie A of Italy), 19 years old, SF, 6’8” 223 lbs, Cameroon
Eboua looked like one of, if not the most, intriguing prospects of his class last year due to a gifted combination of length and athleticism but he took his name out of the draft. He remains too raw and mechanic at times and lacks fundamentals but his upside is high, especially on the defensive end of the floor. He is explosive and runs the floor very well while he constantly plays above the rim even though he is a little undersized.
Projection: Barely makes the cut but age (19) and potential are intriguing
Tier 4: UDFAs, Potential Second-Rounders
Malcolm Cazalon, (Leuven Bears of Pro Basketball League in Belgium and Mega Bemax of Adriatic League), 19 years old, SG, 6’6”, 185 lbs, France
Cazalon missed the 2017 FIBA U16 European Championship, in which France won the gold medal, with a knee injury, but he then helped France win the silver medal in the 2018 FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup, averaging 16.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. A lefty slasher who is an elite athlete, he plays above the rim and excels on the open floor. He has great footwork, likes to attack and is a natural-born scorer but not a great shooter and definitely not a willing passer.
Desperate for more playing time, he moved to KK Mega Bemax this past summer, an Adriatic League team owned by Miško Ražnatović, who has helped discover guys like Nikola Jokic, Ivica Zubac, Dario Saric, Goga Bitadze and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot among others.
Projection: Primary stash candidate
Marko Simonovic (Mega Bemax of Adriatic League), 21 years old, PF/C, 6’11”, 220 lbs, Montenegro
A mobile and skilled big with good hands who can score and rebound effectively even though he struggles defensively and is not a rim protector. He has some range and has looked good in the Adriatic League, beating opponents with his speed to create easy baskets for himself and his teammates.
Projection: Stayed in the draft after some impressive performances lately and could have a promise
Arturs Zagars (Joventut Badalona of the Liga ACB and the EuroCup), 20 years old, PG, 6’3”, 172 lbs, Latvia
The Latvian prospect was named to the All-Star Five of the 2018 FIBA Europe U18 Championship in Riga after averaging 18.9 points, 6.3 assists, and 1.9 steals per game, while leading his team to its first finals appearance and silver medal at the tournament.
He got injured and missed most of the last couple seasons while it’s unclear if he is back at full form. He is a quick, fun kid that really excels in pick-and-roll situations but lacks size and length, something that could hurt him while making the transition to the NBA.
I like his basketball IQ and ability to find his teammates with accuracy and I’m sure teams will fall in love with him if he proves to be healthy.
Projection: Could be a steal late in the second round
Gytis Masiulis (Lietkabelis– LKL Lithuania and the EuroCup), 22 years old, PF, 6’9” 218 lbs, Lithuania
Masiulis is a modern, relatively slow big who lacks mobility and athleticism but whose motor, basketball IQ and the ability to stretch the floor make him an appealing prospect. He has developed his body and can hold his ground against bigger opponents but lacks the skills to become a defensive force. Playing at a top level in Europe for many years, I consider Masiulis to be a ready-to-produce product.
Projection: Has been climbing the boards and odds are someone takes a chance in the second round
Borisa Simanic (KK Crvena Zvezda – Adriatic league and the EuroLeague), 22 years old, SF/PF, 6’11” 220 lbs, Serbia
Simanic is someone to watch due to his 7-foot wingspan even though he has been an underachiever the last couple years, but that might have to do with him playing at the highest level. The combination of sneaky athleticism, versatility and shooting range make him a perfect fit for today’s NBA game and he has the size but lacks the strength and stamina to dominate his opponents.
Projection: Could be a late flier for someone
Tier 5: Names to Know
Louis Olinde (ALBA Berlin of the Basketball Bundesliga and the EuroLeague), 22 years old, SF, 6’9” 195 lbs, Germany
Still raw but he has been making strides and everything in his game screams “NBA talent.”
Nenad Dimitrijevic (Divina Seguros Joventut of Liga ACB and the EuroCup), 22 years old, PG, 6’1” 174 lbs, North Macedonia
Has played at a top level in recent years, proving he can run a team, but is undersized.
Aleksa Radanov (KK Crvena Zvezda – Adriatic league and the EuroLeague), 22 years old, SG/SF, 6’7” 185 lbs, Serbia
Solid all-around game but he lacks the consistent shooting and will struggle against NBA bodies.
Vit Krejci (Tecnyconta Zaragoza of Liga ACB and the Champions League), Czech Republic
All-around energetic point forward with solid athleticism who hustles on both sides of the floor. Lacks experience and shooting is questionable but he is excellent in the open floor, his footwork is already developed and he is a willing defender that uses his basketball IQ. Suffered a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for the foreseeable future which makes him a stash candidate.
Tadas Sedekerskis (Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteizm of Liga ACB and the EuroLeague), 22 years old, SF, 6’8” 205 lbs, Lithuania
Had his best season last year but has failed to distinguish himself.
Biram Faye (Girona of LEB Gold), 20 years old, C, 6’9” 220 lbs, Senegal
Not the best athlete but he is explosive and can run the court, still too raw.
Thank you for reading our International Mock Draft special and please make sure you stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy. And remember, the Draft Guide and FantasyPass are your one-stop shop for all the best analysis we have to offer.
Stats are courtesy of NBA.com, RealGM.com and Basketball-Reference.com and are accurate as of November 14th.