November 9, 2020, 3:31 pm
Hoop Ballers worldwide! Welcome to our brand new NBA Draft Primer! We’ve got lots of content for you to pore over but this space will follow in the spirit of our typical offseason International Spotlight. That means it’s time to start shifting our attention to this year’s international rookie class and its fantasy implications!
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 expected to be held on November 18th. The cancellation of March Madness and most of the European leagues, as well as 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. Fortunately, teams were allowed to conduct in-person interviews starting in October, while potential draftees will have the option to participate in on-court workouts for multiple teams, creating windows for more critical evaluation of the available talent.
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 point guards and forwards only.
With dynasty leagues requiring a good amount of long-term planning I’m going to try and give you an idea about the level of international talent that is expected to take part in this year’s upcoming draft with some projections for the stat-set that they will be bringing to the table.
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
Killian Hayes – Ratiopharm Ulm, German BBL and the EuroCup
19 years old, PG/SG, 6’5”, 195 lbs, France
Hayes is the most advertised French prospect of his generation and the son of American DeRon Hayes, a college basketball standout for Penn State who played professionally overseas for most of his career. The lefty guard won the gold medal and earned MVP honors with France at the 2017 FIBA U16 European Championship, while leading his team to a silver medal at the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup.
Some off-court turmoil affected his 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 draft 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 opponents.
He is one dimensional and he will have to work on his right hand as well; he also looks slow but he is a solid athlete who enjoys contact while shooting. Turnovers and defense are the main areas of concern as he begins to make the transition to the NBA.
NBA Comp: D’Angelo Russell/Kent Bazemore
Stat set projection: Points, Assists, Steals and good percentages, 3-point shooting suspect and high turnovers
Fantasy value projection: Has the tools to solidify himself as a top-75 player but this is unlikely to happen immediately due to some holes in his game
Dynasty outlook: High ceiling which makes him a target in early rounds, could develop into an All-Star
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 contests.
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. The son of another former basketball player and current coach, Zufer Avdija, Deni has played basketball for eight years already. He has a high basketball IQ and is great at reading defenses, being patient and making the right play; basically, he possesses the “feel for the game.”
Avdija has been getting a lot of praise, being compared to Luka Doncic, 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 struggled in his five EuroLeague games last year where the lack of shooting and strength against bigger and more experienced players exposed his weaknesses.
NBA Comp: Hedo Turkoglu/Justise Winslow
Stat projection: Rebounds, triples and defensive stats, Percentages likely take a hit and he is not a natural scorer
Fantasy value projection: Moderate with good upside if he is able to develop his 3-point shot
Dynasty outlook: Age and solid ceiling make him an early-round candidate but I don’t see superstar potential so keep your expectations moderate
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