Introducing the 2014 NBA Draft's Crop of International Prospects

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2014

Introducing the 2014 NBA Draft's Crop of International Prospects

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    With the 2014 NBA draft just one week away, it's time to unveil the robust assemblage of international prospects looking to invade the league.

    There haven't been too many effective newcomers from overseas in recent years, but this year's crop has a good chance to change that trend.

    Not only is there star potential from a couple youngsters at the top, but the draft also boasts a deep selection of Eastern European and Mediterranean talent. Stay tuned for playmakers, versatile forwards and a couple promising post players.

    In this piece, we broke down every international player who has the potential to become a first-round pick. Where might they land, and what will they bring to the table once they join the Association?

    Read on to find out.


    Unless otherwise noted, all player measurements and statistics courtesy of

Artem Klimenko, C, Russia (7'1", Born: 1994)

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    Draft range: Late first to early second

    Best fits within range: Toronto Raptors, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks

    With great hands to go along with a 7'4" wingspan, Russian center Artem Klimenko presents a decent amount of upside to pair with his known contributions.

    He ruled the paint for Avtodor during his 2013-14 Russian League campaign, grabbing 7.4 offensive boards and 23.4 points per 40 minutes, per

    Klimenko doesn't have the dynamic burst of speed or vertical agility that many "upside" prospects have, but he's promising because he's an instinctive pick-and-roll player with post-up promise.

    Mobility and defense also factor into his solid, if unspectacular, upside. ESPN's Chad Ford noted (subscription required) the big man's end-to-end impact: "He runs the floor well and has the potential to be a terrific defensive player."

    There's still a raw quality about his game, and his unathletic style will limit his possibilities. But Ford says that if he develops, "he'd be a steal in the late first round or early second round."

Walter Tavares, C, Cape Verde (7'3", Born: 1992)

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    Draft range: Late first or early second

    Best fits within range: Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns

    Walter Tavares is a towering center with all the makings of a great rebounder, interior defender and pick-and-roll scorer. He impressed scouts in Spain's highly regarded ACB League and is on his way toward becoming a late-first or early-second round selection in the NBA draft.

    And five years ago, he hadn't picked up a basketball in his life yet.

    Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski details how the youngster's life changed: "Before his 17th birthday growing up on the tiny island of Cape Verde, he had never played basketball. A tourist discovered him, recommended him to a Spanish ACB team in the Canary Islands, and soon Tavares was whisked away to learn the game of basketball."

    Tavares' length and ability to play at the rim with ease are striking. He's not a leaper, but his standing reach and timing allow him to haul in truckloads of rebounds and compete with low-post scorers. He also moves pretty well laterally, especially considering that he's a 7'3", 265-pound anchor.

    He's a risky potential first-rounder, for sure. Teams like Phoenix and San Antonio have shown the ability to turn risky international pieces into key contributors, though, so those might be the two best landing spots for him.

Damien Inglis, F, French Guiana (6'8", Born: 1995)

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    Draft range: Late first or early second

    Best fits within range: San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks

    It's not often you see a 6'8", 240-pound player with such promising ball-handling skills and defensive potential.

    That's what NBA scouts see in French forward Damien Inglis, who shows glimpses of brilliance on both ends of the floor. He can pass deftly to comrades, drive to the hoop, rebound and check multiple positions.

    "Strong defensive potential," one NBA scout told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. "A multiple-position defender who is ridiculously long. He's a decent athlete with good offensive game."

    He has to iron out his jump-shooting consistency and take better care of the ball, but those things will come with time. As a 19-year-old prospect, his future looks very bright, even though he's not a top-tier athlete.

    There are plenty of draft-and-stash landing spots for him, or he could join a young team right away and develop here in the states. Either way, he could grow into a key point-forward role player who can guard the opposition's best scorers.

Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia (6'6", Born: 1994)

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    Draft range: Late first or early second

    Best fits within range: Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs

    After shining during international and Adriatic League play, Serbian floor general Vasilije Micic is ready to take his brilliant passing skills to the NBA.

    And when we say "brilliant," we mean that he's the best pure passer in the 2014 class. He's got the best vision and distribution skills of any prospect.

    ESPN's international draft guru Fran Fraschilla labeled him a "pick-and-roll maestro," as he exhibits impeccable timing and puts his teammates in perfect position as they roll to the bucket.

    As a bonus, he measured 6'5.75" in shoes at the 2014 Eurocamp, which means he's got plenty of size to see over the defense and shoot over opponents. However, he's not a good athlete, and he won't be blowing by many players or exploding to the rim.

    He would bring great point-guard polish to a rebuilding team picking early in the second round, or he could sneak into the first and land on a squad looking to bolster its depth.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia (6'6", Born: 1993)

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    Draft range: Late first or early second

    Best fits within range: Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz

    The Serbians have really got the hang of this basketball thing.

    As superb as Vasilije Micic is at the point, his fellow countryman Bogdan Bogdanovic may land ahead of him in the draft due to his sweet shooting stroke.

    He's been bombarding Adriatic League and Euro League opponents all year for Partizan, as his smooth delivery and deep shooting range make him a scoring threat from any angle.

    And it's not just the shooting that makes him attractive to the NBA. He took advantage of his teammate's injury to prove he can dish the rock as well (3.8 assists per game in 2013-14).'s Davide Bortoluzzi explains:

    During this season he started playing as a secondary ball handler, but after the injury to Leo Westermann he has been forced to play as a point guard, showing remarkable passing skills and court vision, even if he's not perfectly suited for the role. He has a slashing style of game, and with his solid structure he’s really effective in drawing contacts when attacking the basket...

    Depending on how his European contract works out this summer, it could take him a while to come over to the U.S. Otherwise, he's an enticing asset who could give his NBA club a nice offensive boost.

Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland (6'11", Born: 1994)

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    Draft range: Mid to late first round

    Best fits within range: Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Oklahoma City Thunder

    He may not be the most polished or fundamental prospect out there, but man, can this kid rock the rim.

    Hailing from Switzerland and playing for Chalon of the French League, Clint Capela's draft value is driven by his athleticism and upside.

    With great end-to-end speed and all the physical tools you could want, he has the look of a forward who could be molded into a dominant energy guy. One NBA scout told Spears that "he's a pogo-stick jumper who is extremely athletic," and he's also a guy who "shows some good shot-blocking and rebounding potential."

    On pick-and-rolls and secondary breaks, he could be a lethal finisher, and if he learns more about defensive positioning, he could be a high-end stopper.

    There's plenty of risk involved in selecting such a raw player, especially if you're a mid-first-round team like the Atlanta Hawks. But if he slips to the late first round to a team like Oklahoma City, he's worth the gamble.

Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia (6'11", Born: 1994)

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    Draft range: Late lottery to late first round

    Best fits within range: Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers

    Using his massive frame, lengthy wingspan and sneaky agility, Bosnian big fella Jusuf Nurkic put a dent in the Adriatic League during his limited minutes for Cedevita in 2013-14.

    He's not a leaper, but he moves his feet well for how big he is. The 6'11" center can score powerfully and deftly in the post with his back to the basket, and his per-minute production this year was crazy good.

    Nurkic averaged 28.2 points per 40 minutes, along with 13.7 rebounds and 13.5 free-throw attempts. He also showed a promising shooting stroke, hitting 70 percent of his charity tosses.

    Although he won't put up that kind of per-minute stat line in the NBA, those numbers show that the youngster can operate on the interior and shoot softly from several angles.

    If he slips to a late-first-round playoff contender like the Los Angeles Clippers or Oklahoma City Thunder, he'll be one of the biggest steals in the draft.

Dario Saric, F, Croatia (6'10", Born: 1994)

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    Draft range: Mid to late lottery

    Best fits within range: Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets

    Croatian forward Dario Saric was already an attractive and intriguing draft prospect before last winter, so his Adriatic League Championship MVP performance for Cibona Zagreb was simply the icing on the cake.

    In recent months, he's shown that he can hit the three-ball with regularity, break down opponents off the bounce and effectively run the show as a passer. In addition, he puts forth great effort on the boards and defensively.

    Not all of those skills will translate seamlessly to the NBA, as he's an average athlete who will struggle to out-duel the most explosive forwards in the league. But his feel for the game and ability to handle the ball will be extremely valuable.

    Some have suggested that he could go as high as fifth overall, and even in a worst-case scenario, he's probably not falling past the late lottery or the Chicago Bulls at No. 16. There are too many lottery clubs who could desperately use his versatility and playmaking abilities at the forward position.

    With the ability to grab a rebound, turn around and lead the offense, he'll exhibit the same playing style as guys like Lamar Odom and Boris Diaw.

Dante Exum, G, Australia (6'6", Born: 1995)

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    Draft range: Early lottery

    Best fits within range: Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz

    Dante Exum is, without a doubt, the prize of the 2014 international draft class, as he possesses the potential to be one of the most versatile guards in the league.

    The Australian prodigy has all the characteristics and desire to be a superb floor general and unselfish creator, and he will also be able to take over games as a scorer. We've only seen him play against high schoolers and young FIBA competition, but the eye test clearly proves that he's got the shiftiness and fluid athleticism to thrive against anyone.

    Much like any other highly touted international prospect, Exum is a risk/reward pick. But his worst-case scenario is still pretty darn good considering his size, polished ball-handling and work ethic.

    His widely projected destination is the Orlando Magic, and what an exciting situation that would create. No one knows exactly where he and Victor Oladipo would eventually rank among the best backcourts in the league, but we do know they'd be explosive.


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