Sotck Rising

Zaccharie Risacher (6-10, SF/PF, 2005, Bourg)

The last couple of months haven’t been great for the Frenchman. His scoring numbers have taken a deep dive, his 3-point percentage is down to the low 20%. Saying all that, it is still considered – and rightfully so – a lock to get picked in the Top-5 in this year’s NBA draft and he might even be the first player who will hear his name on Draft night.

Risacher, at just 19, is a starter, and has helped lead his team to a Eurocup final for Bourg en Bresse, April 9th and 12th against Paris.

Risacher is a wing with great size, who has been on NBA radar for the past 3 years. He had a strong start to the season, where he demonstrated his potential as a 3-and-D wing, with some secondary playmaking and nice movement away off the ball, with his size helping him on both ends of the floor. He is still inconsistent, he needs to bulk up and his last couple of months have been rough. But his ceiling is as high as anyone’s in this year’s NBA Draft.

Alexandre Sarr (7-1, PF/C, 2005, Perth Wildcats)

Coming back from an injury that kept him out for almost 3 weeks, the French prospect finished the season in NBL leaving a good impression, before his team was eliminated in the playoffs. Sarr had a few great games and a bunch of underwhelming performances – mainly on  the offensive end – in the playoffs. But it is his defensive impact that makes him so intriguing and high lottery pick bound .

Sarr is just… big. He is 7-1 with a 7-4 wingspan and good mobility for his size. He has the potential to become the perfect new era big: A Stretch Big/rim protector. But he is not there yet. He is an inconsistent shooter, he needs to bulk up and some aspects of his game are still kind of raw. But he is young. He has potential and has shown encouraging signs. Bigs generally mature at a slower pace. Sarr can be special.

Nikola Topic (6-6, PG, 2005, Mega Mis/Crvena Zvezda)

The Serbian prospect hasn’t played in an official game since January 4th and yet the hype around him, remains. That sure says a lot about his talent and potential, but it also says a lot about the level of this year’s class. This NBA Draft class is considered one of the weakest – at least when it comes to top level talent – of the last couple of years after all.

With that said, it’s really difficult to forget that before he got injured Topic had a sensational season with Mega Mis. He was so good that he forced his team, Crvena Zvezda, to terminate his loan and bring him back. But then his injury happened. And in his two Euroleague games, he struggled, so he has yet to prove it at that level.

Topic is a point guard with great size, amazing passing ability, a Pick and Roll maestro who can make advanced reads and a player who just loves to attack the basket, while he has shown potential as a shooter both off the dribble and at the free throw line. He is still a streaky shooter at best from three. He may not be a fit for all NBA teams as and he needs the ball in his hands to be effective, but there is a lot to like about him. There’s still concerns for him on the defensive end, however, as he’s a below average athlete and despite his height for a point guard, he does not rebound the ball well, get steals, and has a hard time keeping players in front of him.

Juan Nunez (6-4, G, 2004, Ratiopharm Ulm)

The Spanish prospect seems like he made the right decision last summer, when he elected to play one more season in Europe before declaring for the NBA Draft. The past 2 months have been the latest example of that, since he has been a steady force for Ratiopharm Ulm in the German League and EuroCup.

A true point guard, Nunez can control the tempo of the game. He is already great in Pick and Roll actions since he knows how to read the game and is a creative passer and at the same time he shoots almost 65% in the paint this season and is good on ball defender. Shooting in the low 30% from the 3-point line and almost 65% from the free throw line though isn’t ideal, since it’s easy to imagine NBA teams going under the screen in Pick and Roll actions, limiting his effectiveness. It’s undeniable that Nunez is one of the best guards of his generation in Europe. And is his shooting that will probably define his role (and his ceiling).

Nikola Djurisic (6-8, G/F, 2004, Mega Mis)

With Nikola Topic leaving Mega Mis for Partizan, Nikola Djurisic became the focal point of his team’s offense. And he has definitely delivered, exploding on the court. Since Topic left, Djurisic is averaging almost 17 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists per game, while shooint 37% from the 3-point line in 32 minutes per game, while before he was averaging just 10.6 points , 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game with 29% from the 3-point line in 26 minutes.

With a prodigy like Topic running the show, Djurisic was an afterthought. Having the ball more in his hands the past months has surely helped the Serbian prospect to show his offensive versatility as a 6-8 wing with playmaking ability, who can play the Pick and Roll as a secondary creator..

It makes sense for scouts to be skeptical when they take into account that Djurisic is an inconsistent 3-point shooter and had problems fitting alongside a true point guard (Topic) and had to play more away from the ball, in a role that is expected to have in the NBA. But it’s reasonable to also remember that – before the emergence of Topic – Djurisic was once a hot name among scouts and this could lead him to become a 2nd rounder this year.

Stock Neutral

Trentyn Flowers (6-8, G/F, 2005, Adelaide 36ers)

A knee injury followed by a neck strain put an end to a tumultuous season for Trentyn Flowers, who saw his team miss the playoffs and missed a good chance to improve his stock, which took a turn south during the season. One positive note he hit 42% from three and built a reputation before turning pro of being a quality three point shooter.

Flowers still has some real interest and rightfully so. He is a wing with great size and athleticism, who has shown potential as a 3 level scorer and a facilitator. But he had a rough season, failing to live up to the hype. The point guard experiment was a total flop, but the talent is there. Workouts are likely to decide his shot at garnering first round interest leading up to the draft.

Tidjane Salaun (6-10, PF, 2005, Cholet)

Salaun’s production has been all over the place the last couple of months. The French prospect had a lot of ups and downs. He had some great games and some bad ones. But that is to be expected when it comes to a teenager who plays at a high level for the first time. What’s probably kind of worrisome is that he shot just 34.7% from the field the last couple of months and just 25.8% from the 3-point line. But his almost 90% from the free throw line puts things in perspective.
When it comes to Salaun – as with many international players of this year’s class – it’s all about potential. It’s undeniable that he fits the description of… two years away. But he is intriguing. He can become a typical 3-and-D combo forward with great length, who could fit into any system. He is probably more of a power forward when it comes to his skill set for now. He is a streaky shooter. He is not physical enough. But he can become a really interesting two-way player.

Bobi Klintman (6-10, PF/C, 2003, Cairns Taipans)

After losing some time because he was placed on concussion protocol, the Swedish prospect played just 3 games before  the season was over for his team, since the Taipans were eliminated from the playoffs. His last two games were… decent, so he at least showed some of his potential.

Klintman has been inconsistent all season. He had some good stretches and some bad ones. But it’s easy to imagine him becoming a role player in the NBA. His combination of size, length and athleticism are intriguing. He is a solid Spot Up shooter and can become a versatile defender, someone who could probably guard from shooting guards to power forwards. His ball handling needs polishing for him to play on the perimeter and he has to be more consistent. Having all that in mind, he could be a late first round pick.

Ulrich Chomche (6-11, FC, 2005, NBA Academy Africa)

It’s really difficult to find a more intriguing prospect than the Cameroonian big in this year’s NBA Draft. If he decides to declare, then he will be the youngest player to do so, since he was born on December 30, 2005, which practically makes him a 2006 born player.

The combination of size, length (has a 7-4 wingspan), mobility and athleticism are the first things that someone takes notice of. And then it comes down to his skill set and the way he played on the 3 games he hit the floor in Basketball Africa League, where he averaged almost a double-double (13 and 9 actually), with 3 assists, 3 blocks and 38.1% from the 3-point line.

The sample is really small. The level of competition he played against wasn’t great. Chomche sure looks raw at times and his movements are kind of mechanical. He has a lot to learn. It’s not even certain he will declare, despite the buzz around him. But he is really young. He oozes potential. He has shown some flashes as a passer. He could stay in front of some guards in switches. He is a rim protector. If he works hard enough, he could become a Stretch Big/Rim protector. It’s not easy to ignore all those things. If he declares he will definitely have a lot of eyes on him.

Melvin Ajinca (6-8, SG/SF, 2004, Saint Quentin)

A shoulder injury has kept the French wing out since March 2nd. The timing couldn’t have been worse for him, since his stock was on the rise at that point, since he had some strong showings. Ajinca probably still has a lot of fans in NBA circles.

The cousin of former NBA player, Alexis Ajinca, is a lefty wing. He is athletic, he has a great body, has shown potential as a Pull Up and Spot Up shooter and has the potential to become a 3-and-D player on the next level. His decision making isn’t there yet and he hasn’t really attacked the basket as much as someone would expect from a player of his profile this season and he has to become a more consistent shooter. But he has potential.

Pacome Dadiet (6-7, F, 2005, Ratiopharm Ulm)

The French wing continues having a solid season in Germany and has earned a role for his team. It surely helps that Ratiopharm Ulm has decided to give plenty of playing time to young players, but nothing is given with the team. Dadiet has earned every minute on the floor.

Dadiet’s numbers don’t jump off the page. What makes him so interesting is that he has a translatable game for the next level. Playing alongside a lot of players with similar size to him, in a heavy switch system, Dadiet has guarded for stretches from point guards to power forwards, while at the same time he is a legit threat from the 3-point line in Spot Up actions and has showed when he was younger that he can do more things on offense than just standing to the corner. 6-7 wings with a 3-and-D are always welcome in the NBA and Dadiet looks like he could fit that profile.

Ariel Hukporti (02′, 7-1, C, Melbourne United)

After losing the 2022/23 season because of an injury (ruptured Achilles), Ariel Hukporti bounced back nicely this season, the last of his eligibility. Truth to be told, he was actually better than most people expected him to be, considering the severity of his injury. There are even some who think that he is a better player now than he was before his injury.
The German center is a lefty rim runner. A very good Pick and dive big, a solid rebounder and a rim protector. He can’t really do anything else on offense – despite his constant effort to add a Post Up game in his arsenal – and has some limitations offensively, starting with his limited shooting range. Nevertheless, he can have a role in the NBA if he is selected and find a team willing to invest in him.

Mantas Rubstavicius (6-6, SG/SF, 2002, NZ Breakers)

Being in his last year of eligibility, the Lithuanian wing can be proud of the fact that he made the right decision when he chose to play in the LNB. His numbers might not be too impressive, but Rubstavicius had a solid season and showed what he can do on the floor.

The Lithuanian was always a shooter and that’s what he is now. His shooting is the most translatable skill he has, in an era where everyone is looking for a shooter. Being 6-6 and with the ability to attack closeouts surely also helps a lot. If he manages to convince NBA teams that he has the potential to become something more than just a shooter and improve as a facilitator, he will see his stock get a boost.

Stock Down

Eli John Ndiaye (6-9, F/C, 2004, Real Madrid)

Being part of a historical team, with five former NBA players in the front line, the Senegalese forward/center saw his playing time shrinking after February. And it doesn’t look like things will get any better, since EuroLeague and ACB’s playoffs are just around the corner, meaning that Ndiaye’s playing time will probably disappear. And the same will happen to his stock.

Ndiaye has some interesting tools. He is a versatile, athletic big, who can become a multi positional defender, while at the same time he will do just what is asked on offense: Set screens, crash the boards and shoot an occasional Spot Up 3. With that said, he is still raw, he is kind of small to play as a center at the next level and is not polished enough to play as a power forward. But the upside is there and people are interested on him, even if that means that he will have to wait one more year before declaring.

AJ Johnson (6-5, G, 2004, Illawara Hawks)

Johnson’s decision to de-commit from the Texas Longhorns and sign with the Illawara Hawks may not produce immediate results, but he got the chance to gain perspective, get coaching and showed some maturation in a professional environment. The American prospect had some struggles adapting to the style of the NBL. He struggled for playing time, he didn’t have a clear role, playing less than 8 minutes in his last 6 games and didn’t see the floor in the last two games of his team.

Johnson is still a player to keep an eye on. He is a combo guard with great size and athleticism, who can score in bunches. Playmaking and 3-point shooting need work, but he still shows upside to develop if he takes a patient approach.

Ousmane Ndiaye (6-11, F/C, 2004, Palencia)

The Senegalese forward/center managed to play just 13 games before he got injured and has been out since December 17th due to an arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, something that has probably assured that he will skip this year’s NBA Draft. He can just hope that he will be healthy next season and he will have the chance to find plenty of playing time to be able to demonstrate his development.

Ndiaye has nice size, length and athleticism, while his mobility and shooting mechanics suggest that he could become an interesting Stretch Big/defensive specialist. He is raw and losing practically one year of development is not a good sign. But if he turns things around next season he could draw some attention.

Matthew Strazel (6-0, G ,2002, Monaco)

The French prospect is in a strange position in Monaco, with his role changing depending upon the League his team is playing. In LNB he is part of the rotation, he has a big role as a facilitator in Pick and Roll actions and a floor spacer with his shot. In EuroLeague games, he can go from DNPs to not even dress for a game.

The auto-eligible guard has been on the NBA radar for years thanks to his combination of shot creation and shot making. The fact that he plays in LNB – and he is actually pretty good – makes it easy to evaluate him and it ensures that he didn’t just lose a season. But being an afterthought in EuroLeague games isn’t great. With all that said, he is severely undersized but there is always a chance that a team has eyes on him. It only takes one after all.

Yannick Kraag (6-8, G/F, 2002, Joventut)

The Dutch wing is auto-eligible this year and hopes that he has shown enough to be considered a 2nd rounder. At his age, that could happen only if he had a breakout season. He is not having a breakout season. But he showed some things, having a consistent role for a good team in one of the best leagues in the world, the ACB.

Kraag was always an interesting player. A 6-8 wing with a 7-2 wingspan, who can shoot the ball from the 3-point line in Spot Up situations and does most of his damage in transition or playing off the ball, while he is a good defender it’s easy to draw attention. But he hasn’t made the leap year. His team just started to give him consistent playing time. In FIBA’s youth tournament his efficiency went down with a bigger role in the Netherlands. It sure doesn’t look like he will hear his name coming Draft Night (s). But a lot more surprising things have happened in the past. An International 6-8 wing, with 3-and-D potential going from undrafted to a late second rounder is surely not the craziest thing that could happen come Draft day. Just remember Biberovic, Marinkovic and Kalaitzakis.

Alex Toohey (6-7, G/F, 2004, Sydney Kings)

The Australian wing closed the season pretty quietly, which decreased his stock. He had a great start to the season, but as time went by he kind of trailed off eventually.

Toohey is a physical wing with a high basketball I.Q. He knows how to move without the ball in his hands, he makes timely cuts, he is a good rebounder and he just makes the right choice most of the time. But he is a below average 3-point shooter, who has a lot of ups and downs. There is always a place in a team for a wing with size, who is a ball mover and a cutter with a high basketball I.Q. But if Toohey’s shot isn’t falling, then that limits his game.

Lefteris Mantzoukas (6-10, PF, 2003, Panathinaikos)

This is a lost season for the Greek power forward. There is no other way to describe it for him, since he spends most of his time in games in street clothes or just sitting on the bench. Playing for a European powerhouse, a team full of veterans, with Final Four inspirations in EuroLeague, Mantzoukas never actually had a chance, despite his really promising showing last season. And all these just about locked the fact that he will probably wait this year and he will be auto-available in next year’s NBA Draft.

Mantzoukas has been in NBA radars since he was 14 years old. His combination of size, body and shooting made it easy to imagine him becoming a Stretch-4 in the future, who could guard – to a degree – all perimeter positions. But with the exception of last season, he didn’t really have the chance to demonstrate any of this with his team. He has lost a lot of time and it will take a major shake up for him to even be considered a 2nd round pick in next year’s NBA Draft.


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