Ranking the Top 20 international prospects eligible for 2020 NBA draft

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking the Top 20 international prospects eligible for 2020 NBA draft

DunkWire

Ranking the Top 20 international prospects eligible for 2020 NBA draft

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While college basketball players may capture more fame domestically, international prospects are fundamentally essential to the NBA draft.

Based on research conducted by HoopsHype, the average NBA draft over the past four years has featured 9.3 players who played basketball overseas the season prior to their selection. As such, we looked at the top international prospects (plus others worth considering) most likely to hear their names called in the 2020 NBA Draft.

For the sake of consistency in evaluation, American-born prospects who participated in the Australian NBL’s Next Stars program (e.g. LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton and Terry Armstrong) were not included in this exercise.

Especially with so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020 NBA draft due to the coronavirus, the international class will be fascinating to watch. While it may be harder to evaluate them without a traditional NBA draft combine, some teams may prefer to “punt” on this year and opt for more of a “draft-and-stash” route.

Especially for teams (e.g. New Orleans Pelicans and Philadelphia 76ers) with surplus picks, it would make sense to select a player to own their draft rights with the intention of them playing abroad and continuing to develop.

1. KILLIAN HAYES, RATIOPHARM ULM (GERMANY)

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Killian Hayes is a 6-foot-5 guard who can play on or off the ball and has made a legitimate case for himself as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. The French prospect led the German League in transition scoring (3.3 points per game) at just 18 years old, connecting on more than 84 percent of these attempts. Hayes ranked fifth-best for isolation scoring (2.3 ppg) in the EuroCup, shooting well off the dribble. Meanwhile, his distribution (5.1 assists per game) finished as the third-best during those games. The guard won MVP at the U16 Euro Championship in 2017 and All-Tournament Team at the 2018 U17 World Cup in 2018.

Prediction: Lottery

2. DENI AVDIJA, MACCABI TEL AVIV (ISRAEL)

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Deni Avdija is a 6-foot-8 forward who can be a secondary ball-handler and cutter for an NBA team. His draft stock has been up and down as his minutes were limited in Euroleague and his jump shot was fairly ineffective. But he scored 21 points with eight rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal while also shooting 3-for-6 from beyond the arc at the 2020 Eurobasket qualifiers. The prospect took home MVP honors at the U20 European Championship in 2019.

Prediction: Lottery / First round

3. ABDOULAYE N’DOYE, CHOLET BASKET (FRANCE)

Abdoulaye N’Doye is a 6-foot-7 guard who also boasts an enormous 7-foot-2 wingspan. He has a similar physical profile as NBA forwards like Robert Covington and Trevor Ariza, except he has experience playing on-ball for Cholet. N’Doye shot 44.1 percent from three-point range in the French League last season and 40.0 percent from long distance during the U20 Euro Championships in 2018. N’Doye, who previously tested the waters for the NBA last summer, is a bit older than other prospects on this list as he was automatically eligible this year rather than early entry.

Prediction: Late first / Early second

4. ALEKSEJ POKUSEVSKI, OLYMPIACOS (GREECE)

Aleksej Pokusevski is a 7-foot playmaker who has a similar physical profile to Thon Maker, Kostas Antetokounmpo and Bol Bol. There is less film to study for Pokusevski than other top international prospects because he plays in a low-level Greek league, though he has proven himself to be a solid transition finisher. The prospect put up splits of 14.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 5.8 blocks and two three-pointers per 36 minutes at the U18 European Championships in 2019. His wiry frame is the biggest concern on his way to the NBA, but if he adds size, he is someone who has the potential to be the ultimate sleeper of this class.

Prediction: Late first / Early second

5. LEANDRO BOLMARO, FC BARCELONA (SPAIN)

(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

Leandro Bolmaro is a 6-foot-7 forward who has been skyrocketing on draft boards lately. With a unique blend of size and court vision, he is capable of serving as a secondary playmaker with experience as the ball handler in pick-and-roll sets or occasionally when pushing the break in transition. He has played well when the ball is not in his hands, too, shooting efficiently when coming off screens.

Prediction: Late first / Early second

6. THEO MALEDON, ASVEL (FRANCE) 

(LUCAS BARIOULET/AFP via Getty Images)

Theo Maledon is a long, skinny point guard who was very solid in the pick-and-roll for ASVEL. The 6-foot-4 prospect has been accurate when shooting jumpers off the dribble, showing that he is able to create his own offense. His most notable accolade thus far was averaging 14.6 points and 3.1 assists per game in the U16 Euro Championships in 2017, leading France to gold.

Prediction: First round

Prediction: Late first / Early second

7. MARKO SIMONOVIC, MEGA (SERBIA)

Marko Simonovic is a 6-foot-10 prospect who was one of the top scorers in the Adriatic League, averaging 16.8 points per game. The 20-year-old prospect added 8.0 rebounds with 1.2 blocks per game in 2019-20. He also averaged 17.3 points while shooting 41.7 percent from three-point range, also adding 3.0 rebounds per game at the U20 European Championship in 2019. He has been especially productive when operating as the roll man out of pick-and-roll sets.

Prediction: Second round / Undrafted

8. YAM MADAR, HAPOEL TEL AVIV (ISRAEL)

Yam Madar is a 6-foot-3 point guard who averaged 13.7 points and 5.3 assists per 36 minutes in the Israeli BSL. He played extraordinarily well for Israel in the U20 European Championship in 2019, securing a gold medal behind 15.9 points and 7.7 assists per game. He looked especially comfortable running a fast-paced offense when pushing the break, recording the most transition assists per game among all participants at the tournament.

Prediction: Second round / Undrafted

9. GEORGIOS KALAITZAKIS, NEVEZIS (LITHUANIA)

Georgios Kalaitzakis was the overall leading scorer at the U20 European Championship in 2019. The 6-foot-8 prospect finished most of his opportunities as the ball-handler in pick-and-roll possessions, ranking among the leaders for assists in a set offense during the tournament.

Prediction: Second round / Undrafted

10. ROKAS JOKUBAITIS, ZALGIRIS (LITHUANIA)

Rokas Jokubaitis has thrived on unguarded catch-and-shoot attempts but has also been able to connect fairly well when shooting off the dribble as well. The 6-foot-4 guard was accurate when finishing possessions as the ball-handler in transition. He is most often used in pick-and-roll sets and when looking only at possessions in a set offense, his distribution also ranked near the best among all participants at the U19 World Cup in 2019.

Prediction: Second / Undrafted

HONORABLE MENTIONS

11. Borisa Simanic, Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)

He is a 6-foot-11 prospect with a 7-foot-3 wingspan who has been incredibly effective on unguarded jump shots off the catch. He has not been as sharp off the bounce but with his length and shooting ability, he projects as a potentially viable spot-up option in the NBA.

12. Paul Eboua, Victoria Libertas Pesaro (Italia)

A versatile scorer who can produce on spot-up and transition opportunities and as the roll man in pick-and-roll sets, he has struggled with efficiency. His frame (6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan) makes him a compelling NBA prospect.

13. Arturs Kurucs, Vig Riga (Latvia)

The younger brother of Brooklyn Nets forward Rodions Kurucs is a 6-foot-3 guard who has been accurate when shooting off the dribble. He ranked among the leaders in total scoring during the U19 World Cup in 2019, averaging 15.6 points per game.

14. Aleksa Radanov, FMP Belgrade (Serbia)

Aleksa Radanov is a 6-foot-7 forward who has operated as the ball-handler in pick-and-roll sets. He has impressed when finishing possessions as the ball handler in a transition offense as well. Radanov is 22 years old and automatically eligible for the 2020 NBA draft.

15) Gytis Masiulis, Neptunas Klaipeda (Lithuania)

A 6-foot-9 forward from Lithuania who has produced well in pick-and-roll actions as the roll man and on pick-and-pop opportunities. He was one of the most efficient high-volume scorers when he competed in the U20 Euro Championship in 2018, averaging 18.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.

OTHER NAMES TO KNOW

16. Henri Drell, Victoria Libertas Pesaro (Italy)

17. Nenad Dimitrijevic, Joventut Badalona (Spain)

18. Louis Olinde, Brose Bamberg (Germany)

19. Tadas Sedekerskis, Neptunas Klaipeda (Lithuania)

20. Arnas Velicka, Vytautas Prienai (Lithuania)

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