Stock Up

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

The French prospect has been closely monitored since he was 15 years old. Knowing this, he made sure he would have the chance to demonstrate his abilities to NBA scouts in his first season of eligibility, deciding to go on loan to Bourg. Basically, Risacher followed the Wembanyama path, leaving a EuroLeague team – where he would have a limited role – for a team that was gonna give him room to grow and learn from his mistakes. It certainly looks like he made the right decision.

Coming into the season, following an underwhelming performance in the FIBA U19 World Cup with France, Risacher is having a very good season, with consistent playing time in one of the best Leagues in Europe. He mostly plays off the ball in Bourg, stretching the floor with his shot, coming off screens, making timely cuts to the basket and running in transition. Risacher is a wing with great size/length and a good (not great) level of athleticism. He has improved considerably as a shooter and can be profiled as a 3-and-D wing, with additional secondary playmaking (thanks to his passing instincts and high basketball I.Q) who can also score with timely cuts. With that said, he still needs work with the ball in his hands, he has to bulk up considerably and at the same time be more consistent on defense. But the elite potential is there and that’s undeniable.

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

The French prospect decided to follow in the the footsteps of a number of recent international players before him and play in the NBL. As it has been proven in the past, this could either be a great decision or a catastrophic one. In Sarr’s case, it has been a great decision. Despite an injury that forced him to miss a few weeks, he’s back and already had a big 18 point performance in his first game back. Sarr has proven this season that he is a new era big. A player with the potential to become a Stretch-5/rim protector. He has amazing size and length (has a wingspan of 7-4), he is versatile, has good mobility for his size and is a good athlete, while he also has coordination and has shown enormous potential as a defender.

There is a lot to like about Sarr, but there are also some things to create skepticism. He has shown potential as a shooter, but he shoots just 30% on 3s and 60% from the free throw line, while his shooting release is kind of mechanical in Catch and Shoot situations. He can put the ball on the floor, but at times he is out of control and is called for traveling. He possesses nice footwork with some up and under moves, but he rarely Posts Up. He is a good cutter and a decent finisher in Pick and Roll actions, with a nice touch around the basket, but he has problems against physicality and should finish plays with more strength. Sarr has the potential to become a two-way big. A center who could bring havoc on defense with his ability to switch on the perimeter and protect the rim, while also stretching the floor with his shooting. His impact on defense is intriguing. But he still has long ways to go.

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

The Serbian prospect has probably the most polarizing International player of this year’s class and definitely the most exciting/productive one. Playing for Mega Mis, Topic was tremendous in the first two months of the season in the competitive ABA League, forcing his team, Crvena Zvezda, to terminate his loan and bring him back. Unfortunately, he got injured just in his second game with Zvezda and he will miss 4-6 weeks, which is a shame, since he would have the chance to prove whether he is ready to have an impact at the EuroLeague level.

Topic is an intriguing player. A true point guard with good size, amazing feel for the game, great passing instincts, who can facilitate the Pick and Roll at a very good level and also loves to attack the basket. His pull up game needs work and his 3-point shooting is streaky for now, but his mechanics are good and his free throw percentage (85% on 4.6 attempts per game) suggest that he has potential. He has all the necessary tools to become a good player and if he improves as a shooter then everything is on the table.

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

A work in progress. That’s what Tidjane Salaun is right now. A late bloomer, who started hearing his name in scouting circles just last summer thanks to his performances in FIBA’s U18 EuroBasket. the French prospect is having a good season for a teaneger in the competitive LNB Pro A, while also has plenty of chances in FIBA’s Basketball Champions League. The fact that he won’t be 19 years old until August also works in his favor when someone evaluates him.
Salaun is surely an attractive prospect. It is not easy to ignore a 6-10 combo forward (he is mostly a power forward at this stage), with great length and above average athleticism, who has the ability to stretch the floor, is a smart cutter and has the potential to become a two-way player thanks to his physical profile and high defensive basketball I.Q.

Salaun definitely has flaws. He is a streaky shooter. His ball handling needs polishing – especially if he has plans on playing as a wing. His Catch and Drive game needs a lot of work. His finishing at the rim is iffy. But he oozes with potential. He is already steady defensively. There are times that everything clicks on offense and he looks like a new era Stretch-4, who can shoot the ball, drive to the basket, make an advanced move with the ball in his hands and guard every position on the court. His numbers are just average and inconsistent. But he is really young. He has already made strides on his development. It’s a weak draft. This could be the perfect storm for him to keep rising higher on the draft boards.

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

Production has been all over the place for the Swedish prospect this season in the competitive NBL. He can be dominant for stretches in one game and disappear in the next one. This kind of inconsistency is the reason that a lot of scouts are skeptical with him. Being part of a team that usually has 5 shooters on the floor and uses FLEX offense often (a system that requires a lot of cuts and movement off the ball), Klintman has had the chance to showcase some of his skill set, but he still needs to show more. Klintman is a combo forward with great length and good – not great – level of athleticism. He is fluid for his size, he is versatile, he is a good shooter in Spot Up actions, he has good passing instincts and has the tools to become a multi positional defender and an interesting two-way player. He is a little mechanical for now to play on the perimeter, and he needs to bulk up to play as a power forward and has a lot of ups and downs. There is a fear that he could be a tweener in a bad way. But he has potential.

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

A teenager being part of the rotation and playing almost 14 minutes per game as a foreigner in German’s 1st League is not exactly something that can be ignored. Pacome Dadiet has surely earned every minute and he has to be credited for that, especially since Ulm is sitting in 2nd place right now and is giving him real minutes at a high level.

Dadiet is an athletic wing with 3-and-D potential. He runs the floor well, he can score in Spot Up situations and has a nice Catch and Drive game, while he is also projected as a multi positional defender. In Ulm he has even been used as a power forward to stretch the floor, but it’s difficult to see this happening on the NBA level. Dadiet has a lot of things to work on, starting with his ball handling. Decision making is a work in progress. He has to prove that he can be a consistent shooter and that he can limit his ups and downs. But he can become an interesting role player.

Stock Neutral

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

The French prospect’s stock skyrocketed after his performances in FIBA’s U19 World Cup, where he led France to the final, earning a place in All Tournament’s second team. Understandably, that raised the expectations for this season, with Ajinca having a good season playing for the first time in LNB’s Pro A, showcasing his two-way potential.

The cousin of former NBA player, Alexis Ajinca, he definitely passes the eye test. He already has an NBA body, good level of athleticism and – like almost every young player – loves to run the open floor. He is a lefty, he shoots very well in Spot Up actions and has the necessary burst in his first step to attack closeouts, although it has to be noted that he is not attacking the basket with the ferocity that someone would expect from him – especially after watching him with France’s U19 team last summer where he was always in attack mode. He is an advanced ball handler and has shown potential in Pull Ups and at the same time he is a good on ball defender, who can guard all perimeter positions. He surely has his flaws, starting with the way he reads the game, since he needs to work on his playmaking, while he also has to be more careful when he attacks the basket. But he has a very translatable game. He has “3-and-D wing” written all over him and has the potential to become something more.

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

The Spanish guard decided to withdraw from last year’s NBA Draft, betting on himself that he would have a better season in 2023/24, and increase his odds to get picked higher. It’s not certain whether his stock has actually raised dramatically, but he sure plays better this season, having a bigger role with Ulm, a German team that is willing to give playing time to young players.

After having a great Tournament in FIBA’s World Cup 2023 with Spain, Nunez went into the season with a lot of confidence and that has paid dividends. The Spanish guard looks more comfortable as a lead guard. Playing at a fast pace, he runs almost 40% of his teams Pick and Rolls, creating opportunities for his teammates and occasionally for himself. Having many shooters around him surely helps, since he has a lot of spacing. Nunez is a Pick and Roll maestro. A high I.Q point guard, who loves to play with pace and isn’t afraid of the moment. He is still an inconsistent 3-point shooter though and shoots a… hair below 70% from the free throw line, which inevitably makes teams a little skeptical.

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

The emergence of Nikola Topic has had an adverse effect on Nikola Djurisic, who lost some hype this season. The fact that Topic returned to Crvena Zvezda could potentially help him improve his stock, since he will probably have the chance to play more with the ball in his hands, which is one of his selling points. Djurisic is an all around wing with great size and good basketball I.Q. He excels with the ball in his hands, since he has shown the ability to play the Pick and Roll as a secondary playmaker and can either create for his teammates or score, while he also is not afraid to go all the way to the basket.

The problem for Djurisic is that he is still considered an average 3-point shooter (he shoots just 30% from deep), The fact that at the same time his free throw percentage is just 71% makes things even worse and Djurisic has to prove to everybody that he can improve at a high rate, otherwise his stock will continue falling.

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

Playing for one of Europe’s powerhouses with a lot of veterans in front of him, the Senegalese forward/center has actually had plenty of chances to show his abilities, mostly as a blue collar big, with defensive assignments, who depends on his hustle and energy on both ends of the floor. This of course means that his flaws are also being exposed.

Ndiaye is an interesting player. A very good athlete, who can guard all front court positions – and support switch defense in Pick and Rolls – who know his role on offense, where he scores in Spot Ups, cuts to the basket, an occasional Pick and Roll and offensive rebounds, having shown some flashes at reading the game. But he is raw, his shooting is inconsistent and can lose focus on defense. If he becomes a consistent shooter and improves his feel for the game, he could make a case as a role player on the next level. But he has a lot of work to do.

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

It has been a bumpy road for the German big, who missed all of last season because of a ruptured Achilles and returned this year knowing that a lot of scouts have given up on him. Taking all that into consideration, Hukporti has actually put his name on the NBA Radar again in his last year of eligibility, having a solid season, looking better physically and athletically than he did before his injury.

The lefty center has one of the most intimidating physical profiles of his class. He is long, athletic and a strong finisher. He has made strides in Pick and Rolls and is a solid rim protector. His Post Up game needs polishing, he has no shooting range, he is (at best) an average passer and his Pick and Roll defense is iffy, since he is better suited playing Drop coverage. But it’s easy to imagine him having a role as a backup/high energy/rim runner center.

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

Flowers made a surprising move in the summer, when he de-committed from Louisville and agreed to a deal with Adelaide 36ers, and seemed to have the impression that he would be the starting point guard of the team. After committing 12 turnovers in two NBL Blitz games, Adelaide 36ers decided to go in a different direction with him.

Since the season started, Flowers has played mostly off the ball, as a wing (actually a small forward), running fewer than 2 Pick and Rolls per game, doing most of his damage in transition (where he thrives), in Spot Up actions (where he is just OK) and cutting to the basket, having problems adjusting to NBA. And all that before a minor knee injury sideline him for a while. Playing for a veteran team, Flowers has more games where he saw less than 10 minutes on the floor (6) than games he played more than 20 minutes (3). That’s not ideal for his development. Even in that environment though, he has shown flashes of his talent.

Flowers is an ultra athletic wing, who runs the floor like a deer, can create his own shot to some degree, loves to attack the basket and has shown potential as a passer. For now though he needs a lot of work in just about every aspect of his game, starting with the way he reads the game and how he defends. As things stand right now, it’s difficult to consider him something more than a second rounder who will need to spend time in the G-League to polish his skills or stay one more season in the NBL. But the upside is there.

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

Johnson decided to de-commit from the Texas Longhorns back in April and signed with Illawarra Hawks, which made him the possibly the highest profile American prospect since LaMelo Ball to take that route. He even chose the same team as LaMelo. Several months later, it’s safe to say that this decision doesn’t look like the right one, with Johnson struggling to find a role for a veteran team, playing a hair below 10 minutes per game. Understandably, his stock has stagnated. Once considered a guy with lottery pick upside, now he is probably a 2nd rounder, mostly because of the potential he showed when he was in highschool.

Johnson is a 6-5 combo guard with great length. He is explosive, loves to attack the basket and has shown potential as a Pull Up shooter and a defender. Playmaking isn’t there yet and he is mostly a streaky 3-point shooter. He has all the tools to become an interesting player. But he lost a lot of fans this season. It’s obvious that he wasn’t ready to play in the NBL, or maybe he is just a bad fit for his team. Whatever the case might be, Johnson has a lot of improvements to make.

Mohammad Amini (6’7 Forward 2005 Born, AS Monaco)

Amini was one of the few under 18 players who played at the FIBA World Cup in the Philippines as he represented Iran, even scoring 19 points against basketball power house Spain. While practicing with the Euroleague power house and getting a cup of tea with the pro team, overall, getting playing time has been difficult. However, he has utterly dominated the U21 league in almost every statistical category. He’s the second leading scorer at 20.1 points per game while also tied for 6th in rebounding at 8.2 per game and second in steals at 3 per contest. He’s a very well rounded player who scouts need to see play against higher level to get a better feel of where he stands as a prospect.

Link: Interview with Mohammad Amini

Dominique Diomande (6’7 Small Forward 2005 Born, ADA Blois)

Diamonde, a late bloomer, was creating some draft buzz from international scouts in the fall, he lost some momentum with a finger dislocation that sidelined through the winter pause. He returned to action on January 13th and has played two games with the pro and two games with the U21 team since returning to action. Still playing very limited limits for the top club. He looks to be rounding back into form, contributing 17 points in 19 minutes in the U21 game.

Mohamed Diawara (6’8 Forward 2005 Born, Poitiers)

Diawara started his season with Paris but with the ambitions of the Parisian team, he was in a rough spot. He is too good of a player for their U21 team but not yet ready to get minutes and playing time for a team playing in Eurocup and looking to eventually be a mainstay in Euroleague play. Therefore the decision was made to loan him to Poitiers in French Pro B league, so he could get consistent minutes and reps. The 6’8 point forward with an over 7 foot wingspan had shown some signs, of late, scoring 14 points while going 2/4 from three in just his third game with his new squad.

Stock Down

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

Having significant playing time at a high level for the first time in his career (he was loaned to Palencia by Baskonia), Ndiaye started the season as many expected: With a lot of ups and downs, looking raw on offense and ahead of schedule on defense thanks to his athleticism and length. And, then, he got injured, needing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, which probably means that he will have to wait one more year before declaring for the NBA Draft.

Ndiaye is long and athletic, with nice shooting mechanics (when his feet are set) and has the potential to become a new era Stretch big, the kind of player who stretches the floor, attacks close outs and can defend all positions. But he is still raw, needs to work on his fundamentals and bulk up. He still has long ways to go, but it’s easy to understand why scouts have been keeping an eye on him the last couple of years.

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

The Lithuanian wing is auto-eligible this season and decided that playing in the NBL would improve his chances ahead of the NBA Draft. It’s not certain that he will hear his name when the time comes. But he surely has shown some flashes of the player that he can become.

Rubstavicius is a shooter. Plain and simple. A lefty wing with good size, who spaces the floor, can occasionally attack closeouts (and finish plays with some interesting floaters) and runs the floor well, forcing defenses to take notice. He doesn’t really have the chance to show a lot more playing for his team this season, having mostly the role of the 3-point specialist. Truth to be told, that skill is translatable at all levels. But he has to prove that he can do more with the ball in his hands and be steady defensively so that scouts could give him something more than a glance.

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

Once considered one of the best guards of his generation in Europe, the French prospect has taken a few steps back the last two seasons, since he decided to join Monaco. Having four guards with NBA experience in front of him (Mike James, Elie Okobo, Jordan Loyd since last season, adding Kemba Walker this summer) didn’t do him any favors. Strazel is actually pretty good in LNB Pro A. But the fact that he barely plays in EuroLeague makes it difficult for scouts to trust him and fully evaluate him.

Strazel is auto-eligible and he still has some fans among scouts. He is undersized but has a nice body build. He has a nice Pull Up game going all the way up to the 3-point line. He possesses an explosive first step and he has improved as a playmaker, which always seemed to be the problem with him, since he was considered a combo guard. He can play the Pick and Roll and has nice court vision. But he hasn’t had his breakout season yet. His game might be translatable to the NBA, but he has to convince scouts that he can actually step on the floor for his team first.

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

After a promising start to the season, the dust has settled for the Australian prospect, who is having a lot of ups and downs in the NBL, which have kind of hurt his stock and appeal with NBA scouts.

Toohey is a high IQ wing with good size, who moves the ball well. He seems to always be in the right spot on offense, moving to the gaps on the opponent’s defenses with nice cuts, finding Spot Up opportunities, running in transition, crashing the boards and at the same time, he is a good team defender. But his shot isn’t falling, his free throw percentage is down, he is not a great athlete by NBA standards and his lack of athleticism hurts him on the defensive end. Wings with size, high basketball I.Q and blue collar mentality are always useful and all these make Toohey an interesting player. But for him to make the next step he has to improve as a shooter, or things will remain challenging for him.

Lefteris Mantzoukas (6-9, PF, 2003, Panathinaikos)

After finishing last season strong as the starting power forward of Panathinaikos (overtaking former No 2 pick Derrick Williams for the spot), the Greek prospect looked ready to have a bigger role this season, strengthening his case ahead of 2024 NBA Draft. Or at least that’s what everybody thought, but then his team brought two veterans who are playing in the same position, including former NBAer, Juancho Hernangomez. That obviously changed everything, with Mantzoukas going – once again – to the end of the bench.

Mantzoukas has been on the NBA radar for almost 5 years. He seemed to make a good transition from small forward to power forward, looking like a Stretch-4/Catch and Drive big, who could defend all frontcourt positions. But the lack of playing time and reps have hurt him considerably and he looks stuck.


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