While all eyes rest on the postseason, the 2013 NBA Draft is less than two months away. As we approach the event, countless college stars are looking to translate their game to the next level with private workouts, combine appearances and team interviews.
Although the college stars may take the headlines, it's the international prospects that will shape the 2013 NBA Draft.
According to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv, an anonymous NBA general manager referred to this year's draft class as, "Historically weak." The fact that we've yet to see a player emerge as the surefire top pick is only a part of the reason for skepticism.
No one will benefit more from this belief than the prospects from overseas.
Giannis Adetokunbo, Greece
Position: Point guard
Height & Weight: 6'9", 196 pounds, 7'3" wingspan
NBA executives that have been to Greece to scout Giannis Adetokunbo include Sam Presti of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets (via Sheridan Hoops). Then, of course, there's the high-profile visit made by Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge (via Sheridan Hoops).
Suddenly, fans are convinced that the only option for the Celtics is to draft Adetokunbo—that's far from the case, but the Greek prodigy will still help shape the first round.
Adetokunbo is a 6'9" point guard with a 7'3" wingspan, which has thus resulted in the inevitable label of a small forward. The truth of the matter is, Adetokunbo is not just an NBA 3—Adetokunbo is a pure point guard.
A point guard with some of the most marvelous size you'll ever see.
As one might expect, he takes massive strides while running the floor and is often at the rim before the defense realizes he's getting out in transition. While there, he can either finish with ferocity or make crafty feeds to trailing scorers.
In the half court, Adetokunbo is just as capable of running plays to feed his teammates.
Adetokunbo is very thin and could have trouble defending the NBA's small forwards if that's where he's placed. With such extraordinary length, however, it's simply a matter of learning the proper positioning skills to overcome strength disadvantages.
Regardless of what happens in his career, it'll certainly provide some thrills.
Rudy Gobert, France
Position: Power forward
Height & Weight: 7'1", 220 pounds, 7'9" Wingspan
Even if there were nothing else to report about Rudy Gobert, the fact that he stands at 7'1" with a 7'9" wingspan would be intriguing enough. For those needing confirmation, that was not a typo—Gobert's wingspan is 7'9".
Fortunately for NBA scouts, there is more to Gobert than endless size.
Gobert rebounds at a strong rate and has the potential to be a dominant shot-blocker, but the true strength is his athleticism. Not only can Gobert leap well for his size, but he runs the floor and finishes well in transition.
This trait could help teams overcome the fact that Gobert is just 220 pounds and as thin as one could imagine.
The one thing going against Gobert is that he's viewed league-wide as a project player. Due to his overwhelming lack of bulk and raw offensive skill set, teams would need to take time to develop him, whether it be overseas or in the NBA.
According to Chad Ford of ESPN Insider, the primary question is simple:
Gobert has been ranked ahead of [Kansas Jayhawks center Jeff] Withey all season until one NBA scout made this poignant comment to me on Sunday: "Why would we draft a guy who might turn out to be as good as Jeff Withey ahead of Jeff Withey?"
Gobert has the higher upside, but that's a dangerous word to work with.
With that being said, Gobert could be a lottery pick and would present great value to a team. Whether a squad is looking for a star of the future or a project player to stash overseas, either one of those outcomes is possible with Gobert.
Regardless of where he goes, Gobert's length and athleticism should be enough to keep him firmly placed in the mid-first round.
Sergey Karasev, Russia
Position: Shooting guard
Height & Weight: 6'7", 197 pounds, 6'9" wingspan
Sergey Karasev is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year's draft, as he has all of the tools to be a high-quality shooting guard at the next level. With excellent size, a 6'9" wingspan, lethal shooting abilities and high-quality passing skills, Karasev can do it all offensively.
Expect a team to make a well-informed gamble on him during the first round.
Karasev was viewed as a slashing scorer entering this season, combining size with crafty ball-handling. As the season has progressed, however, he's become more of a well-rounded scoring threat due to the development of a three-point shot.
He remains a mid-30s shooter overall, but Karasev hit 65.0 percent from beyond the arc during EuroCup play—the upside is there, it's just about finding the proper stroke.
Karasev's ability to score in a variety of ways is complemented by intriguing facilitating skills and a high basketball IQ. This enables Karasev to become a primary ball-handler or to play off-ball and cut across the floor for open looks.
Upside is always a debatable subject, but Karasev is a safe pick that should be able to contribute early in his NBA career.
Dario Saric, Croatia
Position: Small forward
Height & Weight: 6'10", 223 pounds, 6'11" wingspan
Dario Saric has been the most consistently talked about international prospect throughout the 2012-13 NBA season. As a 6'10" point forward with brilliant court vision and polished ball-handling skills, there's good reason for that.
Saric is as skilled as any player in this draft class, regardless of where they're from.
With elite size for his position, Saric will own an advantage over virtually all NBA opponents at the 3. More importantly, he'll be able to play the 4 in small ball lineups, although his need to bulk up could present defensive issues.
Offensively, however, there is very little that Saric can't do.
When his feet are set, Saric is a lethal jump shooter from beyond the arc or mid-range. While he takes more of a set shot, Saric does have the height and length to rise up over any opponent he may come across.
The key, however, is that Saric's height and length enable him to make passes from the top of the key or drive and go over or around interior defenders for feeds or finishes.
There is reason for concern, as Saric does like to shoot off of the dribble, which does pose issues. He's not quite the caliber of shooter off the bounce that he is with his feet set, and falling in love with the pull-up or fade-away could present issues.
Weighing in at 223 pounds while standing at 6'10" is another concern.
With that being said, Saric has been rated as a borderline lottery pick since the regular season commenced. For that reason, it's clear that scouts know what they're evaluating and why he could be so valuable.
There's a strong possibility that Saric is taken in the lottery and becomes the first international player off of the board.
Dennis Schroeder, Germany
Position: Point guard
Height & Weight: 6'2", 168 pounds, 6'7" wingspan
Dennis Schroeder is becoming something of a cult favorite amongst NBA analysts, mainly due to the fact that he plays the point guard position. While most are evaluating his stock on hype alone, the truth of the matter is that Schroeder is more than a highlight video.
His playing style says Denver Nuggets floor general Ty Lawson, while his build says Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
Much like Lawson, Schroeder's greatest strength is his combination of paralyzing quickness and close-to-his-body ball-handling. This not only enables him to become a menace in the open court, but opens the door for hesitation moves to enter the lane.
Once there, Schroeder loves to drive into big men to draw contact as he goes at the rim.
With that being said, Schroeder is not an undersized point guard—he's 6'2" with a massive 6'7" wingspan. Although he appears to stand closer to 6'1", Schroeder's length is what makes him such a tantalizing prospect.
The fact that he can get into the paint is promising—when you have a 6'7" wingspan, however, that means you can finish in a wide variety of ways.
Defensively, Schroeder's wingspan creates the potential for elite level defense. Not only will this enable him to play the passing lanes, but if utilized properly, Schroeder's length could lead to dominant on-ball defense, as well.
The skills are not yet thoroughly polished, but at 19, upside is the key here.
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