Ranking the Top International NBA Draft prospects

All of the focus and spotlight has been on the NCAA Tournament of late, so I thought it would only be fair to give the international class a little bit of love.

Here I break down the top international prospects from what I’ve seen thus far. I have watched the top guys a decent amount at this point, but have some catching up to do with the honorable mentions section so this board will likely be adjusted as I watch more film.

One note that’s important to take into consideration when evaluating some of these top-level international guys is that for many of these teams, they are trying to win games desperately. They do not care about the development of a guy that’s probably going to leave their program in a year or two unless it directly translates to winning games.

These are grown men and professionals at some of the highest levels in the world (especially in the EuroLeague and NBL) so taking minutes or per-game statistics on the surface level can get you in trouble if you read into them too much. The eye-test is critical, as you can’t judge them as you would an NCAA prospect. LaMelo Ball’s numbers in the NBL are a prime recent example of this.

1) Josh Giddey- PG, 6’8″ (Adelaide 36ers)

Grade: Late Lottery

Role: Connector + Point Forward 

Standing at 6’8″, Giddey is a sensational passer with an excellent feel for the game. He’s turned it up a notch of late from three-point range shooting 17-for-43 (39.5) in his last 10 games. On the season, he’s averaging 10.9 points, 6.5 assists, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game on 40.8% FG.

His combination of intelligence, size, manipulation, change of pace, and craft make him someone that should be considered a lottery prospect. The level of competition he’s facing while putting up these numbers should not fly under the radar. I wrote a full in-depth scouting report on Giddey before the NBL season tipped off here: Josh Giddey NBA Scouting Report.

2) Alperen Sengun- C, 6’10” (Besiktas)

Grade: Top 20

Role: Versatile Scoring Big + Interior Defender 

Sengun is putting up 19.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.3 steals per-game for Besiktas in the Turkish Super League. At just 18 years old, putting up those gaudy numbers is quite the accomplishment.

He’s shooting 63.3% from the field, and 80.4% from the line, getting there over 6 times a game. He has hit the occasional three but isn’t shooting them consistently at the moment. I think he will be able to eventually stretch the floor with his soft touch, solid shooting mechanics, and positive free throw percentages. He offers everything you like to see from a modern big offensively.

3) Usman Garuba- F/C, 6’8″ (Real Madrid)

Grade: Mid-to-late 1st round

Role: Defensive savant + Interior Threat 

Garuba isn’t playing a ton of minutes for Real Madrid, but he’s making the most of the time he gets. In his last outing against Obardoiro, he posted 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 block on 4/9 shooting (0/3 3PFG). The shot is still a concern, along with his entire offensive game being fairly limited, but he has the intangibles and defensive awareness to become an impactful rotation piece despite those issues.

To me, he’s a mid-to-late 1st round pick, being more likely to get taken by a contending team that needs a complementary piece than a rebuilding team looking for a home run or building block. Check out our piece on Garuba for more on the Real Madrid big man: Usman Garuba NBA Scouting Report. 

4) Roko Prkacin- F, 6’9″ (Cibona Zagreb)

Grade: Late-1st/Early 2nd round

Role: Versatile Forward + Stretch Four 

Roko is a versatile forward that offers a blend of shooting, size, and skill. Part of me wants to go all-in on Prkacin as a 1st round pick, the other part is *slightly* concerned with how he adjusts to NBA athleticism and size. He is a good athlete and moves well for his size, but there are times offensively where he can disappear or struggle to create for himself.

When he’s assertive and engaged he has the ability to warp the game through his plus ballhandling, vision, and floor-spacing ability at his size. He had a 23-point, 9-rebound game on just 12 shots earlier this month to back that up. If he finishes up league play strong it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see him taken in the 1st round in the 2021 NBA Draft.

5) Rokas Jokubaitis- G, 6’4″ (Zalgiris)

Grade: Late-1st/Early 2nd round

Role: Scoring combo guard + Secondary Creator 

Jokubaitis is carving out a significant role in the EuroLeague at the age of 20, which isn’t an easy feat. Rokas is a crafty, manipulative scoring guard that could serve as an on or off-ball threat in the NBA.

The lefty is averaging 21.3 minutes per-game for Zalgiris who is in the middle-of-the-pack (15-15 record) in the EuroLeague. His per-36 numbers sit at 11.7 points, 4.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1 steal on a shooting split of 46/34/74. He should be a borderline late-1st round/early-2nd target for teams that can be patient with his development.

6) Ariel Hukporti- C, 7’0″ (Nevezis)

Grade: Late-1st/Early 2nd round

Role: Rim Runner + Defensive Anchor + Interior Scorer 

Hukporti is a physically gifted 7-footer that moves well for his size and does a nice job of carving out space in the interior. There are some shooting flashes there as well that leads me to believe the ceiling for him is quite high if the lefty’s shooting profile comes together.

He projects to be a rim-running center with his above-average vertical pop and size. He can also protect the rim well and serve as a defensive anchor for a team. In 10 games in the LKL (Lithuanian league) he’s posted 10 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.2 APG on an uninspiring 39% clip from the floor in 21.9 minutes per-game. I’m not all that concerned with the poor shooting numbers in a 10-game sample size due to his track record of being above 50% from the field. He’s a unique talent that should find his way into an NBA rotation in the next couple of years.

7) Ibou Dianko Badji- C, 7’1″ (FC Barcelona II)

Grade: 2nd round pick

Role: Interior Threat + Rim Protector 

Badji is a freakish physical specimen that stands 7’1″ with a 7’6″ wingspan and 9’10” standing reach. He is extremely raw and more on the project side of things, but the potential is through the roof if he can put it all together.

He hasn’t seen the floor much for Barca’s “A” team (6 games) but has played in 15 games for Barcelona’s second team, averaging 17.4 minutes per game. In those 15 contests, he’s put up 5.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.8 BPG on 46% shooting from the field. He isn’t someone that’s going to be ready to play significant minutes right away, but the 7’1″ big man is oozing with potential. Certainly worth a flyer in the 2nd round for a team that believes in their development system.

8) Juhann Begarin- G/W, 6’5″ (Paris Basketball)

Grade: 2nd round pick

Role: Versatile Wing + Scorer

9) Mario Nakic- Wing, 6’7″ (Oostende)

Grade: Late-2nd round/UDFA

Role: Versatile Scoring Wing + Skilled Floor Spacer

10) Mojave King- SG, 6’5″ (Cairns Taipans)

Grade: Late 2nd/UDFA or 2022 Prospect

Role: Three-level scorer + 3&D wing

11) Carlos Alocen- PG, 6’5″ (Real Madrid)

Grade: Late-2nd round/UDFA

Role: Backup PG + Facilitator + Game Manager

Honorable Mentions:

  • Khalifa Diop- C, 6’11” (Gran Canaria)
  • Malcolm Cazalon- G/W, 6’6″ (KK Megaa Bemax)
  • Amar Sylla- F, 6’9″ (B.C. Oostende)

Need to watch more of before ranking:

  • Ismael Kamagate- C, 6’10” (France)
  • Vrenz Bleijenbergh- F, 6’10” (Belgium)
  • Tom Digbeu- G/W, 6’5″ (Spain)
  • Gabriele Procida- G/W, 6’7″ (Italy)
  • Nikita Mikhailovskii- F, 6’8″ (Russia)
  • Matthew Strazel- PG, 6’0″ (France)

I would also like to give a shoutout to IDProspects.com for the tremendous international draft content they put out over there. If you’d like a deeper dive on these prospects, plus many more I highly recommend you check them out and subscribe if you can.

For more in-depth NBA Draft Coverage, visit our NBA Draft Zone page that is filled with scouting reports and draft content.

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