In one of the weirdest years in recent memory due to the COVID-19, this season’s International class is one of the deepest of the last couple of years thanks to the addition of LaMelo Ball and R.J Hampton. There are some scouts who consider this season’s International class a bit top-heavy, but a deeper look can change this perspective.
1. LaMelo Ball (01′, 6-6, PG, Illawara Hawks)
The youngest Ball brother is one of the most polarizing prospects of the last couple of years. Ball has been under the microscope since his early years in Highschool and has overcome all of the scrutiny and family drama, and if nothing else gained a great deal of perspective with the decision to play overseas. With all that said, his talent is apparent and he showed some flashes of it in NBL before an injury forced him to leave his team. There remain a lot of unknowns and it’s safe to say ball is one of the riskiest picks in the past few years. Ball is a gifted scorer, he is creative with the ball in his hands and can pass with the best of them. At the same time, his scoring efficiency and lack of elite athleticism and lack of competition throughout high school and international play make him a huge boom or bust pick.
2. Deni Avdija (01′, 6-9, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv)
Big wings with playmaking skills don’t come along very often. Avdija is not extremely athletic or fluid, and might not be completely there yet, but he has demonstrated that he has all the necessary tools to become an effective point forward in the future. The Israelian forward has been on the NBA radar for a couple of years and last season had the chance to showcase himself at the senior level with his team, displaying a lot of things that he had showed as a teenager in FIBA’s Junior level games. Avdija is a versatile wing, who has played the 2-through-4 positions. He is good with the ball in his hands, he can play the Pick and Roll either as the ball handler or the screener. He is already a good passer and has showed potential as a shooter with Pull Up 3’s. He lacks an elite first step though – which limits him in ISO situations – and is an inconsistent shooter. He can’t do much about the former, but he should do plenty about the latter to ultimately reach his ceiling.
3. Killian Hayes (01′, 6-5, PG, Ulm)
The lefty guard – and potential lottery pick – is one exciting prospect. Killian Hayes (pictured) has been on the NBA Radar for quite some time and last season was able to demonstrate his talent in the German division. Hayes is a point guard with great size at 6’5 with a 6’9 wingspan. Quite possibly bigger than Ball, surprisingly. Quick (not explosive), who can change pace with ease, creative in Pick and Roll situations and an ability to score off the dribble from mid-range. At the same time, he is considered an average athlete by NBA standards, he is turnover prone and is an inconsistent shooter, things that he has to work to reach his potential. While Ball got all the predraft hype, don’t be surprised if Hayes ends up the better pro, especially if he lands in the right situation, **cough, Spurs, cough, cough***
4. Theo Maledon (01′, 6-5, PG, ASVEL)
One of the more heavily scouted prospects in this draft class, Maledon had an underwhelming season with ASVEL at the EuroLeague level, being part of the rotation for a second season in a row. Maledon is yet another point guard of this class with great size. He has a big wingspan and is sneaky athletic. He has two-way potential. Maledon is adept in Pick and Roll situations and has been good in Spot Up situations playing at the EuroLeague level, and he has been very good on the defensive end. What’s worrisome though is that he lacks an elite first step, while he has been too passive at times on offense, which could be a problem in an era where point guards are asked to create and be aggressive all the time.
5. RJ Hampton (01′, 6-5, PG/SG, New Zealand Breakers)
Hampton decided last season to follow the international route. And although he probably didn’t have as much playing time and development as he would if he had played in college, he had the chance to improve playing against grown men. Hampton is an elite athlete with good size for a combo guard. He can play above the rim, he loves to run the floor and has shown potential as a shooter and a secondary playmaker. He certainly needs polishing in just about every aspect of his game and could be a case of “Jack of all trades, master of none”, but he has potential. Reminds of Zach Levine, without the jump out of the gym hops or three point accuracy.
6. Leandro Bolmaro (00′, 6-7, PG/SG, Barcelona)
The Argentintian combo guard has been in the spotlight despite the limited chances/minutes he was afforded with Barcelona. And for good reason, since he always looks ready to do something special when he is on the floor. Bolmaro is an intriguing combo guard with great size. Fearless, full of energy on both ends of the floor, flashy, creative with the ball in his hands, and can play the Pick and Roll and make some crazy passes, he is the typical Argentinian guard who doesn’t back down from anyone. He has his limitations as a shooter for now and really needs to work on his jumpshot, while he hasn’t been scouted as much as other players of his generation, there is a lot to like about him, and he fits the ideal late first round stash pick.
7. Aleksej Pokusevski (01′, 7-0, SF/PF, Olympiacos)
It has been quite some time since the last prospect who had so many question marks as Aleksej Pokusevski has. “Boom or bust” is probably the phrase that describes the Serbian prospect best for now, since he has so many things to like and also so many red flags.
Pokusevski is a unique player. A seven footer with a guard’s skillset, who can shoot 3’s, handle the ball, run the fast break and be a rim protector. And a very impressive highlight reel can be made from all of his standout plays. At the same time, his thin frame, lack of physicality and the fact that he hasn’t really been scouted since he played sparingly in Greek’s second division has made a lot of scouts concerned. He may turn into a steal, or never play a game in the NBA.
8. Abdoulaye N'Doye (98′, 6-7, PG/SG, Monaco)
The French prospect finally managed to turn thing around. After an underperforing 2018/19 season, N’Doye had a really strong 2019/20 season, which helped him to jump back on the NBA radar again and be considered a second rounder. N’Doye is a combo guard with great size, he possesses a massive 7-foot plus wingspan and can guard all perimeter positions and even some undersized power forwards. He has shown flashes as a secondary playmaker and as a Spot Up shooter and looks like a prototype role player for the next level. There are some concerns about his upside as a lead guard and his sample as a 3-point shooter is pretty small (never taken more thatn 2.2 3-pointers per game in his career) but the talent is there.
9. Yam Madar (00′, 6-3, PG, Hapoel Tel Aviv)
One more international guard for this class. A really competitive guard, Madar turned a lot of heads with his scrappy play in FIBA’s junior level games as the “Robin” to Deni Avdija. Madar is a defensive minded point guard. A true pest, who loves to guard his opponents full court and disrupt them. On the offensive end he loves to set up his teammates, he is a very good passer and a threat from mid-rage. He is a below average 3-point shooter though and can be too hesitant on offense. he also lacks elite athleticism, but there’s enough to like about him in order to be a second round stash guy.
10. Paul Eboua (00′, 6-8, PF, Pesaro)
A real beast and another prospect that has been scouted heavily the last couple of years. Eboua decided to keep his name in this year’s Draft after a season full of ups and downs in the Italian first league. Eboua is the most gifted athlete of this year’s international class. He has good size and elite length (7-3.5 wingspan), plays with motor and can become a rare case of a player who can switch 1-5, while contributing with his energy and rebounding instincts on offense. He is still raw though and is far from a finished product. He needs a lot of work on his skillset (especially if he wants to play on the perimeter) and he might need a year or two in G-League before he is ready. A real project but his upside is extremely intriguing.
Karim Mane (00′, 6-6, SG, Vaner College)
An explosive guard with an NBA body, Mane elected to play in a college in Canada instead of NCAA. Mane is a very good athlete, with nice length, who is at his best in the open floor. He has showed some potential as a shooter, especially off the dribble. He loves to attack the basket and has potential as a secondary playmaker. He is a streaky shooter for now and needs to work on his decision making, but has a lot to like.
Marko Simonovic (99′, 7-0, PF/C, Mega Soccerbet)
Simonovic wants to follow in the foot steps of Nikola Jokic, Ivica Zubac and Goga Bitadze as the next big from Mega that gets drafted and plays in the NBA, after a good season in the Aba Liga. If there is one word to describe Simonovic, it’s “productive”. He is a mobile big with ability to play either frontcourt position, with potential to be a threat in Pick and Roll and Pick and Pop situations, thanks to his touch around the basket. He is an OK athlete, who lacks elite leaping ability, but he is pretty quick for his size. He has a good basketball I.Q and is a great rebounder, but he has problems against physicality.
Vit Krejci (00′, 6-8, PG/SG, Zaragoza)
An intriguing wing, actually took many by surprise with his decision to keep his name in this year’s NBA Draft. Krejci had an alright 2019/20 season, but was really unlucky at the beginning of 2020/21 season because he tore his ACL and will be out for the year. Krejci could be a good draft and stash candidate. A big combo guard who can create his own shot, has a fearless approach and loves to drive to the basket is always welcomed in the NBA. For him to make the next step though, he needs to improve as a shooter and be more consistent.
Nenad Dimitrijevic (98′, 6-2, PG, Joventut Badalona)
The autoeligible guard has had been a consistent performer over the last couple of seasons, turning some heads with his play in the Spanish League. Dimitrijevic is a quick point guard with high basketball I.Q. A floor general, he is creative with the ball in his hands, a great passer and ball handler, who can play the Pick and Roll and he knows how to make his teammates happy. He lacks size and athleticism though and needs to be a more consistent and aggressive shooter.