NBA draft history has seen a running theme of undervalued international prospects. The reason for international devaluation is sometimes unjustified. For instance, NBA scouts' over-concern about certain developing guards' sizes, athleticism and shooting have caused them to overlook these players' immense basketball IQs, creativity and defensive tenacity.
Future Hall of Famers Manu Ginobili (57th pick, 1999) and Tony Parker (28th pick, 2001—which boasted one of the weakest first round fields ever) received excessive flak for lacking athleticism and shooting ability at very young ages.
Goran Dragic (45th, 2008) was considered too slight to play at the NBA level. This summer, Dragic is the second-best pure point guard on the free-agent market behind Deron Williams.
In this year's draft, there are two European guards in particular who are just begging to let international devaluation history repeat itself. One is Evan Fourier, a 6"6', 190-lb. shooting guard from the Union Poitiers Basket 86 (France).
The 20-year-old has an offensive game that has been touted as powerful, smooth and intelligent. These are highly unique attributes in the NBA. Furthermore, Fourier is one of those rare guards that can first sniff out a high number of offensive rebounds, and then turn them into quick assists under the rim.
Because Fourier is deemed to lack shooting confidence and a developed three-point shot, he's being undervalued. These qualities may very well come in time. What is certain is that Fourier already has the more rare attributes to become a versatile NBA combo guard.
He'll be a steal in the second round.
The other undervalued Euro is point guard Josep Franch, who right now may not even be drafted later this June. Franch has been heralded as a classic pure point with terrific court vision and handles well-suited for an up-tempo offense, but also effective in half-court sets as well.
However, what has severely stigmatized Franch's draft status is his current inability to hit jumpers, his lack of athleticism and lack of size. Even given these concerns, some of which will be addressed naturally over time (size), Franch is an NBA rarity: a pure, pass-first point guard.
As Rajon Rondo, Jason Kidd or Ricky Rubio have indicated, lack of shooting ability or athleticism are not massive detriments toward being an effective pure point. Court vision, handles, intelligence and creativity are the key factors.
It would behoove several teams to look past the typical scout concerns with regard to Franch and take a risk at acquiring the next great surprise of the 2012 NBA draft.