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Basketball’s popularity around the world is only growing and with that, the talent of international players is growing as well. The league is surrounded by talented foreign stars such as Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokiunmpo, and Nikola Jokic. Especially in this years weaker draft, foreign players can become value picks due to the relative lack of popularity and exposure compared to college prospects. On the other hand, the lack of exposure leads to big draft busts as well. With all that being, these are the top international prospects coming into this years draft.
Killian Hayes (PG/SG) – Ulm (Germany)
Age: 19 Height: 6’5” Wingspan: 6’8.25” Weight: 215
2019-2020 : 26.8 MPG, 12.8 PPG, 6.2 ASTS, 2.3 REBS, 3.3 TOVs, 39% 3PT, 90.9% FT
Hayes is probably one of my favorite prospects coming into the 2020 draft, not just out of the international prospects. Hayes has the potential to be a future all-star due to the way that he plays. The young french guard played in Germany this year, and he blossomed as one of Ulm’s key players. Hayes shows an adept understanding coming off the pick n’ roll, as he is able to shoot, hit a floater, or find the open man. Along with being a solid shooter, Hayes shows the ability to hit shots off the dribble with Harden like step backs. That mixed with his solid vision could see him become a team’s first option on offense down the road.
Hayes is extremely left-handed and needs to work on incorporating more of his right hand in both finishing and passing. In order to be successful at the next level he needs to tighten his handle and be more careful with turnovers. Defense isn’t his calling card, however an improvement with consistency on that end will help him become a balanced player.
Theo Maledon (PG) – LDLC ASVEL (France)
Age: 18 Height: 6’4” Wingspan: 6’8.5” Weight: 174
2019-2020: 17.7 MPG, 7.4 PPG, 3.1 ASTS, 1.8 REBS, 1.9 TOVs, 36.7% 3PT
Maledon is a crafty point guard that plays in France and is mentored by a French Legend in Tony Parker. Similar to Parker, Maledon plays very in control and doesn’t overly rely on quickness on the court, but rather he plays the angles in order to get where he wants on the court. Maledon does not get hurried on the ball and is able to control the pace of the game when he is in possession. He is a reliable shooter off the catch and the defense must respect him from three.
Maledon lacks the top end speed that many of the premier guards in the league possess. Not only does this hurt his ability to get to the rim, but it hurts his ability to stay in front of quicker guards. All around Maledon is a solid prospect, however he does not have a trait that he can rely on as his calling card.
Deni Avdija (SF) – Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
Age: 19 Height: 6’9” Wingspan: 6’9” Weight: 215
2019-2020: 14.3 MPG, 4.0 PPG, 2.6 REBS, 1.2 ASTS, 0.7 TOVS, 43.6 % FG
Avdija projects as a play-making wing at the next level. In his limited time on the floor, Avdija has shown caution with the ball and often opts for statistically efficient shots. He has the size to play small ball four or to just be a traditional wing for a team. Avdija can be trusted to handle the ball and shows effort and defensive IQ on the other end of the court.
Avdija’s shot is a little more inconsistent than one would want from their wing players and his percentage from the free throw line are not encouraging. His length is average and his lateral quickness needs work from whichever team drafts him. Despite the lack of quickness and length, a team does not need to worry about the effort on the defensive end.
Aleksej Pokusevski (PF/C) – Olympiacos B (Greece)
Age: 18 Height: 7’0” Wingspan: 7’3” Weight: 201
2019-2020: 21.3 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 7.3 REBS, 2.8 ASTS, 1.7 BLKS, 1.2 STLS
Even though Pokusevski has the height of a big man, the skills more reflect that of a guard/wing. He projects as a player that could make plays off the short roll or on the high post. Pokusevski seems able to attack closeouts and has the height to pass over help defenders. For a player his size, he is a fluid athlete and has a decent enough shot to threaten teams from the outside.
Pokusevski is extremely skinny for his height and needs to bulk up in order to compete with other forwards in the league. He is a streaky shooter but has the potential to be a knockdown shooter. If he is able to fill out his frame the rest of his game should follow. He needs to understand how to use his length on defense and once he bulks up, he should become a more consistent finisher around the rim.
Leandro Bolmaro (SG/SF) – FC Barcelona I/II (Spain)
Age: 19 Height: 6’7” Wingspan: 6’8” Weight: 180
2019-2020 (FCB II) : 26.8 MPG, 14.89 PPG, 3.56 ASTS, 2.67 REBS, 28.1% 3PT 1.78 STL
2019-2020 (FCB I) : 13 MPG, 4.43 PPG, 2.33 ASTS, 1.14 REBS, 0.86 STLS
Out of all the international prospects, I feel that Leandro has the biggest potential to be a value pick. He has slowly been climbing on mock drafts but many don’t see Bolmaro making it past late first round. The Argentinian has been playing for Barcelona for several years and has flashed ability to handle the ball. He is very capable of distributing the ball and has a knack to make flashy plays. When he does not have the ball, Bolmaro has the IQ to make timely cuts for easy baskets. Despite lacking game changing length, Bolmaro is a pest on defense through his sheer effort.
If he’s gonna make it in the league the shooting must improve. If it does not, he’ll be relegated to a role player role like that of Evan Turner. Besides that, he doesn’t have extraordinary speed or length.
Bonus: American Prospects Playing Overseas
RJ Hampton (PG/SG) New Zealand Breakers (NBL Australia)
Age: 19 Height: 6’5” Wingspan: 6’7” Weight: 188
2019-2020: 20.6 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 2.4 ASTS, 3.9 REBS, 1.1 STLS, 1.5 TOVS
Hampton has the first step in order to get past defenders and get to the rim. His game is revolved around his ability to get to the rim with his athleticism and quick handle. He’s at his best in the open court, however he is very capable of taking his man one on one if needed in the half court.
Hampton is still very raw when it comes to play-making. He lacks the natural vision that Lamelo Ball or Killian Hayes possess. The main thing that Hampton needs to improve on is his shooting. Like many athletic guard prospects before him, he did not need to rely on his shooting, however in the NBA it’ll make or break his career. He needs defenses to respect his shot if he’s gonna be able to stay in the league.
Lamelo Ball (PG) Illawarra Hawks (NBL Australia)
Age: 18 Height: 6’7” Wingspan: 6’10” Weight: 190
2019-2020: 31.3 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 6.8 ASTS, 7.6 REBS. 2.5 TOVs, 25% 3PT, 37.5% FG
Lamelo Ball has been under the public eye ever since he was a freshman at Chino Hills with his brother. Flash forward four years and now he has the potential to be the first overall pick. One key trait that the eldest and youngest brother share is their incredible passing ability. Lamelo’s height and vision allows him to sling the ball all over the court with either hand. In addition, Lamelo understands how to manipulate the defense with a ball fake or his eyes, which opens up passing lanes for open shooters.
What differentiates Lamelo from Lonzo is his scoring. He’s an able finisher with either hand and shows great touch on floaters and lay-ups. Lamelo is very creative with his dribble and is able to get around defenders with shifty moves.
Although much improved from his early years at Chino, Lamelo needs to improve his form and shooting. Many think of his highlights pulling up at half court, but Lamelo’s numbers from the three point line during his stint in Australia were not efficient at all. He needs to be consistent from three to unlock all-star potential. Furthermore Lamelo is inconsistent on defense. He has good instinct, however he tends to gamble too often on defense.