Credit: FIBA

International Prospects Heading Into The Season

Highlighting the top international draft prospects heading into the 2019-2020 season

International draft prospects are some of the hardest players to evaluate due to the varying levels of competition and at times the limited roles they play on their current team. With that said when a team takes a chance on an international player it can often have some of the greatest rewards in the draft process as many are selected in the second round. Here are some of the prospects that could hear their name called on draft night in 2020. We are not including players like Lamelo Ball or RJ Hampton who are playing internationally but have American roots.

Theo Maledon

Point Guard-6’4″ 174

Skilled with the ball in his hands, Maledon has a do it all offensive game that is impressive when you take into account he is just 18 years old. While he is not the greatest athlete he is more than adequate in that regard, being able to score on the fast break break as well as getting by defenders when penetrating to the basket. His outside shot needs some work after shooting 33.3% last season, however his shooting motion is solid and he should be an effective shooter whenever he begins the next step in his professional career. The biggest area that Maledon needs to work on the defensive end of the floor and as the level of competition will drastically improve from playing in France, he has shown flashes of being able to handle his own on defense. He is still not receiving significant minutes in the early part of this season mostly due to his age and inexperience, but the potential is there leading many analysts to project him as a possible lottery pick.

Deni Avdija

Small Forward-6’9″ 215

Avdija has good size and moves well for his 6’9″ height primarily playing on the wing. On paper he is the prototypical wing that NBA teams look for with size, length and the ability to make plays on the offensive end. How well he shoots the ball this season will play a large role in his draft stock once we get closer to draft night, but with his limited minutes it will tough to fully predict future shooting efficiency once the usage goes up. There will be questions about his ability to add weight to his frame as well as perform on the defensive side of the floor but as long as he shows off a solid all around offensive potential Avdija will be in consideration for a first round selection in 2020.

Killian Hayes

Point Guard/Shooting Guard-6’5″ 215

Hayes is a smooth lefty combo guard who likes to make plays off of the dribble. He has good size at 6’5″ and his ceiling as a professional would have him playing more point guard than off of the ball. This is mainly due to the questions about his ability to shoot the basketball from deep, and without improving in this area he could struggle as he transitions to the American game. Nonetheless he is regarded as one of the top international prospects because his play making ability, and he has also shown that he can set up teammates. At 18 years old he has solid experience playing just under 20 minutes per game last season, averaging 7.2 points and 3.1 assists per game. These are promising numbers given his young age and the level of competition in France which has improved over the last decade. Hayes is a possible lottery pick and as of now his stock is solidly in the first round which along with solid play this season he can cement himself as one of the first international names off of the board.

Malcolm Cazalon

Shooting Guard-6’6″ 185

Cazalon has yet to receive major minutes at the professional level, but played well in the FIBA U18 games showing his potential. He is a natural scorer who is most comfortable with the ball in his hands and he has also been able to knock down shots from the outside on occasion. His outside shot is a work in progress as with many young players, and should he see an increased usage going forward he will have an opportunity to show an improvement in that area. With the league valuing scoring more than ever before he will certainly be watched closely by scouts this season. His play on the defensive side of the court will be a factor in his stock but how well he is able to score the ball is going to be the focus of teams as they consider whether or not to take a long term chance of Cazalon.

Amar Sylla

Power Forward/Center-6’9″ 190

Long and thin, Sylla is in the mold of many international prospects who have been drafted in recent history who are selected with the hopes of turning into a versatile defensive minded player. He was a shot blocking star last season averaging 3.12 blocks per game giving teams intrigue about his potential going forward. Offensively he has a long way to go before he could be threat at the NBA level, however there are plenty of players that are primarily in the league to defend the basket and not relied on for much scoring. Sylla runs the floor well for his size, and given his defensive abilities he could go in the second round if a team feels he can make an impact against the best players in the world. At 18 years old he has plenty of time to grow his game and he could fit well for a team looking for a “Draft and Stash” type of prospect.

Arturs Zagars

Point Guard-6’3″ 172

Known for his ability to shoot the basketball, Zagars was named to the all star team at the FIBA Europe U18 Championship, where he averaged 18.9 points and 6.3 assists per game. His feel for the game is impressive he flourishes in pick and roll situations being able to make the right decision more often than not. There are questions about how well he would be able to handle the athleticism in the American game and those are legitimate but he has a fluid game with the ball in his hands and his shot can keep the defense honest. On the defensive side of the floor he can create turnovers by getting steals but the jury is still out of how well he could defend elite athletes. At 19 he is still young enough to be a stash and draft type of pick with the second round in 2020 being a possibility.

Biram Faye

Power Forward/Center-6’10” 225

Faye has the size necessary to play power forward or center at the NBA level, and at just 19 years old he has shown some impressive potential in his young career. He moves well for his size and his frame appears to be one that will add strength well, allowing him to compete on the inside. The Senegal native plays with a high motor getting a good amount of 50/50 balls and put backs when a defender leaves his assignment. Most intriguing to his development is the fact that he has shown the ability to knock down shots from the outside which is more important that ever for big men in the league. Faye at times can settle for bad jump shots when penetrating to the basket is the right move, but his willingness and confidence to take outside shots is something that will benefit him going forward as his shot selection improves. With that said he is not a great shooter but given his age those numbers theoretically will continue to go up as he career continues. He blocked 1.53 shots per game, a number that could have been higher but his abilities to defend in the low post are solid as a whole.

Paul Eboua

Small Forward-6’8″ 223

Coming out of Cameroon, Eboua is an 6’8″ wing who has good length and a versatile all around game. He has not been playing basketball long giving him more room to grow than prospects that have been at it since a young age, and ever since being first noticed in 2015 his game has continued to evolve. After entering the 2019 draft and going through workouts he elected to withdraw his name giving him the option to be drafted in 2020, and most signs point to him being a possibility in the second round. Since that point he played an exhibition game against the University of Minnesota where he led all scorers with 26 points in the game against players closer to his age than many of the professionals he will face. There is a lot to like about his game with a solid shooting stroke, play making abilities with the ball in his hands, good speed and inside scoring when he has a mismatch. On the defensive side of the floor he has the tools to become a high level defender on the wing and his shot blocking has been very impressive at times. His shooting numbers will need to improve, as well as his shot selection, but as mentioned before his game is still young with room to grow.

Aleksej Pokusevski

Center-6’11” 196

At close to 7’0″ or just under it depending on which source you believe, Pokusevski is a big man that is very comfortable putting the ball on the floor to make plays. Obviously this is not against the best competition that basketball has to offer but whenever a player that his size is capable of doing some of the things we have seen him do on tape, it makes you an intriguing prospect. His shooting touch is also very impressive, shooting it at 52.6% on 4.75 three point attempts per game. The ability to handle the ball and shoot it at a highly efficient rate given his size and age has him on the NBA radar. He needs to add a lot of weight to his skinny frame, but you have to consider that he turns 18 in December meaning his body has plenty of time to fill out with a good strength program. Blocking shots is another positive to his game and he blocked 3 shots per game last season at the junior level with Olympiacos. Now that he will be going up against some strong competition at the Euroleague level he is a candidate to see his draft stock rise if he continues to show off a versatile skill set and block shots at a high rate.

Borisa Siminic 

Power Forward-6’10” 209

Another skilled big man, Siminic runs the floor well for his size and has shown the ability to be an effective shooter from the outside. His shot motion has good mechanics and is fluid allowing him to be confident in knocking down shots from all over the floor, more as a catch and shoot type of player versus creating his own shot. In the open floor he can space well finding before being fed a pass to the corner, or he can beat many other big men down the floor to get around the basket. His frame is small and he will need to add weight to be able to guard some of the older players he will face this year with his minutes expected to increase. His size would allow teams to play him at the four or the five given the style of play and he should be able to fit into either one of those roles or give a team multiple looks in a game. On the defensive side of the floor scouts will be looking to see him use his length to block shots at a higher rate and if he can hold his own rebounding the ball down low that will go a long way in helping his stock. Overall his game fits the modern day speed and spacing of the professional game and to start the season he is definitely a legitimate draft prospect going forward.

 

 

 

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