In another weird season due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s International class is Top-heavy and… weak on depth. A number of International players that – before the season began – had hopes of getting drafted, decided at the last moment to withdraw. That had an effect on this year’s class, which was suppose to be one of the deepest in recent memory. As a result, there are just 8 International players that are considered early candidates, which clearly narrowed down the choices when making the Top-10.
1. Josh Giddey (02, 6-8. PG/SF, Adelaide 36ers)
A 6-8 point guard is always intriguing. A 6-8 point guard with elite passing skills is a rarity. And that’s what Josh Giddey is, who shined this season in NBL and had a really productive campaign on his way to this year’s NBA Draft.
Giddey is a point guard with a high basketball I.Q. Naturally talented and with great feel for the game, and makes the lives of his teammates easier. He is a Pick and Roll maestro and a triple-double threat. In his case, is his shooting (improving, but still inconsistent) and his approach to the game (he can be unselfish to a fault) that will determine his ceiling. He has elevated his stock to being considered a probable lottery pick.
2. Alperen Sengun (02′, 6-10, C, Besiktas)
Productive. That’s probably the word best suited to describe Alperen Sengun, one of the most productive teens in the last two decades (and even more) in Europe. Alperen Sengun started the season as an afterthought for this year’s NBA Draft, but game by game his stock kept rising. He was considered a late second round pick by November, and early second round pick by December and a first round pick by March, which clearly says it all about the season he had, averaging almost 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Turkish League, earning the MVP award.
Alperen Sengun is a beast. A skilled, but physical, center, who lost a lot of weight. he possesses great footwork when Posting Up and is an excellent Roller in Pick and Roll situations. He draws fouls like a magnet and shoots around 80% from the free throw line. He has some limitations on defense, mainly because he is an average athlete by NBA standards, but teenagers that average almost 20 and 10 in a good level league in Europe don’t exactly come around often.
3. Usman Garuba (02′, 6-8, F/C, Real Madrid)
The most heavily scouted prospect of his generation, Usman Garuba had a good season playing at the highest level with European powerhouse, Real Madrid. His stock kind of plateaued at one point, but this was before the EuroLeague playoffs started, when he exploded, dominating games against Anadolu Efes, the team that eventually won it all.
Garuba is a freak of nature. Very athletic, long and with a great motor, who can play either frontcourt position. His calling card was – and always will be – his ability to bring chaos on the defensive end, since he can guard everyone on the floor. His physical gifts help him cover guards on switches and Back to the basket bigs in the Post (this past season was one of the best Post Up defenders in EuroLeague). On the offensive end he is an excellent screener and roller in Pick and Roll situations and a lob threat, while he has shown some promise as a Spot Up shooter. It’s more than clear though that he needs to work on his game, so that he can become a two-way threat, but for now he can be considered a defensive specialist, which is not a bad start for a rookie in the NBA.
4. Filip Petrusev (00′, 6-11, C, Mega Soccerbet)
Filip Petrusev decided last summer to withdraw from the draft and return to Europe for one final season and improve his stock. It proved to be the right decision, since in last year’s draft he was in the late second round/Undrafted category after a solid season in Gonzaga and now he is considered a second round pick.
The Serbian project had a great season with Mega Soccerbet, a team that operates more like an NBA factory and has sent – among others – Jokic, Zubac and Bitadze to the NBA. He is a fairly athletic big with a high basketall I.Q, who can Post Up and play the Pick and Roll. What really changed the view on him though is that he showed the ability to stretch the floor, adding a semi-dependable 3-point shot to his arsenal. If that holds up and at the same time finds a way to play with a better motor, he could have a productive career.
5. Rokas Jokubaitis (00′, 6-3, PG, Zalgiris)
After having a solid season as a back-up point guard in EuroLeague, Rokas Jokubaitis signed with Barcelona, which makes him a Draft and Stash candidate, except if a team falls in love with him and drafts him in he first round, which seems unlikely at this point.
Jokubaitis is left handed point guard with good size, solid athleticism and a fearless approach to the game. A coach’s player, can play the Pick and Roll at a very good level, is not afraid to attack the basket (at his best when he goes to his left) and has shown promise in Spot Up situations. His lack of elite burst can cause him problems at the next level, he still needs some work in his Pull Up game and must become a more consistent 3-point shooter, but the talent is there.
6. Juhann Begarin (02′, 6-6, SG/PG, Paris Basketball)
The French prospect has been on the NBA Radar for quite some time. This season was the one that he was able to showcase his talent in French’s second division and he decided that he had shown enough to keep his name in the draft.
Begarin is as intriguing as any International prospect in his class. A combo guard with good size and NBA athleticism and two-way potential, who is a better athlete than basketball player at this point. He is electric in the open floor, he has improved as a shooter in Spot Up situations (but still needs work), can operate on and off the ball and has the tools to become an elite defender. At the same time though, he is still raw, he needs to improve his decision making and the way he reads the game and has a long ways to go as a facilitator. If a team is willing to work with him, he could become an interesting player.
7. Vrenz Blejenbergh (00′, 6-10, SF, Antwerp)
In an era where playmaking from the wing is considered essential, Vrenz Blejenbergh is a rare 6-10 wing who can bring just that: Playmaking. And that’s the main reason every scout had Blejenbergh’s name in his notes the last couple of years and especially this season, despite the fact that the wing from Belgium didn’t blow anyone away with his performances in a low level League.
Blejenbergh is a skilled 6-10 wing with good level of athleticism, who can put the ball on the floor and looks comfortable playing the Pick and Roll as the ball handler, while he has shown potential as a shooter. The problem with him is that he looks like he hasn’t figured things out yet, he hasn’t really shown the desire to dominate games and, despite his solid mechanics, he is an inconsistent 3-point shooter. The thing is though that he is too talented, skilled and polished to ignore.
8. Biram Faye (00′, 6-10, F/C, Basquet Girona)
Faye’s decision to keep his name in surprised some scouts, since the truth is that he didn’t exactly dominate this season in the Spanish 2nd decision. The forward/center from Senegal probably thought though that it would be better for him to be available as soon as possible, hoping that his profile and potential will be enough to convince a team to take a chance on him.
Faye has an NBA body and has for a long time now. He is a mobile, athletic big with good length, who projects to be a Rim Runner/Pick and Roll Big, with some range in his shot, who can make hustle plays and be a steady defender. The problem in his case is that he is still lacks fundamentals, there is a fear that he has hit a plateau physically and has a lot of things to work on both ends of the floor. It remains to be seen whether a team will be willing to bet on him at the end of the second round.
9. Amar Sylla (01′, 6-9, F, Oostende)
A couple of years ago, Amar Sylla was considered a really interesting prospect, dominating at junior level alongside Ousman Garuba with Real Madrid. After spending two underwhelming season in Belgium with Oostende, all the hype is gone for the lefty forward, which didn’t prevent him from keeping his name in the draft.
Sylla is athletic, long and raw. Once considered to have potential to become a combo forward, he is mostly a forward/center at this stage. His physical profile, his versatility on the defensive end – where he has the tools to become an elite defender – and the promise has shown in Pick and Roll and Pick and Pop Situations, all these things are intriguing. But he is still very raw, his shooting is inconsistent, needs to work on every aspect of his game and looks like he has lost his confidence. He is still young (he is almost a 2002 born, since he was born in October 1st of 2001) and maybe a team will see something in him. The potential is there, but he continues to struggle to live up to his potential, so the clock is ticking.
10. Alex Antetokounmpo (01′, 6-8, F, Murcia)
The youngest Antetokounmpo brother, wants to become the 4th member of the family to get drafted, along with Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas Antetokounmpo. This doesn’t seem possible at the moment, but crazier things have happened in the NBA Draft before. It’s more than obvious that Antetokounmpo is more of a wild card. Scouts watched him in High School playing with Dominican and have made their evaluations, but, still, you never know.
Alex Antetokounmpo elected to skip college last year and sign with Murcia, hoping that he will have some playing time in ACB. Instead, he played for the 2nd team of Murcia, in 4th Division in Spanish, having a solid season.. What’s even worse though is that he mostly played as a power forward, since he was one of the tallest guys on the team. Antetokounmpo is an athletic combo forward with good size and ridiculous length (has a 7-2 wingspan). He is raw and has long ways to go, but has shown potential as a facilitator and as a shooter in High School and in the Spanish 4th Division. He is far from a finished prospect and leads a lot of work. But the potential upside could make a team to give it a try at the end of the second round.