2020's Top 10 International NBA Draft Prospects

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJuly 31, 2020

2020's Top 10 International NBA Draft Prospects

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Some of the top names for the 2020 NBA draft come from outside the United States.

    This should be a bigger year than 2019 for international prospects. We have five projected to go within the first round in our latest mock draft, and that's not counting LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton, each an American who chose to play abroad.

    Two of the following players could go in October's top 10, but our third- and fourth-ranked prospects possess enough upside to wind up offering lottery-type value, as well. 

    Though international prospects from the NCAA are eligible for the draft, we only considered those coming from pro leagues overseas.

10. Marko Simonovic (KK Mega Bemax, C, 1999)

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    Draft projection: Undrafted 

    Playing with KK Mega Bemax, known for its track record of producing NBA bigs (Nikola Jokic, Ivica Zubac, Goga Bitadze), Marko Simonovic finished fourth in the Adriatic League in scoring, first in rebounds and fourth in blocks.

    The competition he's faced isn't overwhelming, but teams may want to bet on his particular strengths translating in the right role.

    Simonovic's size, mobility and improved shooting hint at a versatile weapon in the pick-and-roll game. He's flashed sharp footwork and timing slipping to the basket and catching in traffic, and he continues to look more comfortable popping and shooting even though his mechanics aren't the smoothest. In a combined 24 games this season, Simonovic made 19 threes (31.1 percent) and 80.3 percent of his free throws.

    His anticipation and pursuit of loose balls off the rim also led to many second-chance points. And at 6'10" with enough athletic ability, his knack for offensive rebounding could carry over.

    But he does struggle with contact and physicality inside. Away from the basket, it's tough to picture him blowing by, creating or defending in space. He led the league with 3.9 fouls per game.

    He doesn't project to the NBA well in certain areas, but the ways Simonovic goes about getting buckets may still be able to work with enough improvement to his body and jump shot.

9. Borisa Simanic (KK Crvena Zvezda, PF, 1998)

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    Draft projection: Undrafted

    Teams could look past Borisa Simanic's quiet season with KK Crvena Zvezda in EuroLeague and the Adriatic League, where he worked mostly as a spot-up player in limited minutes. 

    Even at 22 years old, he's still worth thinking about for his shooting versatility and accuracy. At 6'11", he's shot above 37.0 percent from deep in every season since 2016-17, including this past one, during which he combined to make 33 of 69 attempts (47.8 percent).

    NBA teams may think about using him to stretch the floor, pick-and-pop and knock down trailer threes from the top of the key, but he's also showed fluidity pulling up off the dribble.

    We just haven't seen Simanic put the ball on the floor much, particularly in a reduced role. He won't add value as a creator or inside player except for some occasional weakside shot-blocking. 

    He'll have a chance as a specialty shot-maker if he gets the right opportunity to unlock his signature skill—and ideally gains more confidence.

8. Abdoulaye N'Doye (Cholet, PG/SF, 1998)

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    Draft projection: Nos. 45-60/undrafted

    At 21 years old (now 22), Abdoulaye N'Doye experienced his breakout season in the Jeep Elite league, finishing with averages of 10.2 points and 3.9 assists on 15-of-35 shooting from three.

    He's a draw for his combination of 6'7" size and ball-handling ability to attack off the dribble and play-make. N'Doye is used to create out of pick-and-rolls, where he can pass over the top or penetrate and finish using a variety of touch shots around the key.

    Though not a volume shooter, he improved his credibility this season, making the shots defenses gave him and 75.0 percent of his free throws. 

    Between his size, length and foot speed, N'Doye's defensive outlook is another plus on the scouting report. He projects favorably with tools to disrupt one-on-one play and switch onto different positions.

    The major concern with N'Doye revolves around his potential to score at the NBA level. He's not advanced around the perimeter (35 three-point attempts in 26 games). And lacking explosiveness, he leans heavily on tough floaters and runners. Given his age, his 13.3 points per 40 minutes aren't promising.

    From an NBA standpoint, versatility remains his biggest selling point. He'll need a team to buy a Swiss Army knife projection to get drafted.

7. Yam Madar (Hapoel Tel Aviv, PG, 2000)

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    Draft projection: Nos. 45-60/undrafted 

    Yam Madar earned a spot on 2020 draft watch lists last summer when he averaged 15.9 points and 7.7 assists for Israel during its gold-medal run at the U20 European Championships.

    Another key stretch over the past six weeks could now have teams making last-minute changes to their board. In 11 games since the Israeli BSL resumed play in June, the 19-year-old point guard averaged 14.0 points and 3.9 assists for Hapoel Tel Aviv. 

    Skilled, deceptive and quick, Madar puts pressure on defenses off the dribble. He mixes speed and pace with crafty footwork to shake and separate. He can be a flashy playmaker with high-IQ and improvised passes.

    Despite playing below the rim, he's able to pull off tough finishes with both hands using touch and angles.

    And though defense is typically a negative for most 6'2" point guards without athleticism or strength, Madar impacts games with his relentless ball pressure and ability to pick up full-court. 

    His shooting is a key question mark after he made just 23 of 86 threes in 32 games. And there are obvious concerns about whether he'll continue to execute at the NBA level without a reliable jumper or the size and athleticism for two-point scoring.

    But it has also become easier to buy Madar carving out an NBA career as a backup valued for speed, flair, smarts and defensive energy. 

6. Paul Eboua (Consultinvest VL Pesaro, PF, 2000)

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    Draft projection: Nos. 45-60/undrafted

    Scouts have been tracking Paul Eboua since 2016, and his distinguishable physical profile is an obvious draw.

    The 20-year-old Cameroonian forward possesses a strong, athletic 6'8" frame for finishing, playing through contact and winning 50-50 balls. It's powered by an aggressive motor around the basket, which led to 2.6 offensive rebounds in just 21.6 minutes per game overseas. 

    Eboua leans on rim runs, dump-offs to the dunker spot, second-chance points and low post-ups, but he's proved capable of converting line drives and the occasional open jump shot.

    At this stage, Eboua is still mostly tools, athleticism and energy over skill. He only shot 8-of-31 from three and 62.5 percent from the free-throw line, and he isn't an advanced ball-handler or shot-creator. 

    Staying overseas as a stash pick may be the most reasonable move for Eboua and whichever teams are thinking about drafting him. He's a project who'll earn some looks in the second half of the second round. 

5. Theo Maledon (ASVEL, PG, 2001)

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    Draft projection: Nos. 15-35

    Despite just turning 19 in June, Theo Maledon will enter the draft with plenty of pro experience. After playing over 1,000 minutes between the Jeep Elite league (France's top division) and Eurocup last year, he emerged as a regular this season in EuroLeague, where he shot 45.6 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three.

    Without a great deal of speed or explosiveness, he still made it work in Europe by using changes of pace, ball skills and shooting balance. However, some scouts question whether his effectiveness can translate to the NBA floor, where he'll have a difficult time blowing by or creating separation. 

    Believers can note that athleticism hasn't been a requirement for NBA ball-handlers who can compensate with skill, body control and basketball IQ. Maledon shows a good feel operating in ball-screen situations, and he does a nice job getting his feet set into jump shots, both off the dribble and the catch. 

    His 6'3" size and shot-making versatility suggest he can work as a combo guard from the 2.

    Concerns about his ability to create one-on-one, turn the corner, contain dribble penetration and defend bigger guards are valid and point to a lower ceiling. But Maledon's passing IQ, finishing coordination, touch, range and effectiveness against quality competition suggest his floor is high enough to justify first-round consideration. 

4. Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF/C, 2001)

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    Draft projection: Nos. 15-35

    Aleksej Pokusevski's profile says hidden gem considering he played just one minute of EuroLeague and spent the rest of his time in Greece's second division. But since he has such an unusual skill set for a 7-footer, teams aren't sleeping. He's likely highlighted on boards across the league as a player to monitor if he slips too far. 

    Checking a unique set of boxes, Pokusevski put up wild stat lines last summer at the U18 European Championships, finishing the tournament with averages of 4.0 assists, 4.1 blocks and 1.4 three-pointers per game. He averaged 3.1 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.6 threes in HEBA A2, continuing to showcase special shooting versatility and fluidity, passing and defensive playmaking at the rim.

    He'll be the draft's youngest prospect, so questions over his skinny frame and arms aren't as alarming as first-time viewers may think. Regardless, he still projects to struggle with contact around the basket, and he's not always locked into a defensive stance and ready to contain dribble penetration on defense.

    But the ability to make jumpers off spot-ups and screens at 7'0", plus find teammates and protect the rim, paints Pokusevski as a more enticing gamble than many of the college prospects projected in the mid-to-late first round.

3. Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona, SG/SF, 2000)

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    Draft projection: Nos. 15-35

    Despite only playing 55 EuroLeague minutes all year, Leandro Bolmaro made a persuasive case with his versatility in the Spanish ACB and LEB Silver league. 

    Offense can run through the 6'7" wing who separates himself from others his size with unique handles and playmaking ability. NBA teams figure to use him to push the pace in transition and create in ball-screen situations. 

    He registered a 26.0 assist percentage in Spain's third division, delivering enough high-level passes to highlight an obvious knack for the skill. But he also uses his ball-handling and body control for slashing and finishing.

    Bolmaro also projects favorably on defense, where he guards with energy and desire to blow up pick-and-rolls and apply pressure around the perimeter. 

    On the downside, he can be too flashy and turnover-prone. His shot-creation methods are basic and result in either forced drives or contested pull-ups.

    How scouts feel about his shooting trajectory should ultimately determine where they feel he's worth taking. 

    In 24 total games, Bolmaro combined to make 22 threes (2.1 per 40 minutes) on 29.3 percent shooting, looking capable but not proficient. He did finish strong, however, drilling three triples in under 16 minutes against Iberostar Tenerife.

2. Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)

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    Draft projection: Top 10

    Deni Avdija's case has only gotten stronger after the Israeli BSL returned to action in June. MVP and league champion have been added to his resume. He took on a bigger workload compared to his role in EuroLeague, giving scouts an opportunity to see more of his scoring and playmaking potential with the offense running through him.

    In 12 games since play resumed, Avdija averaged 14.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists on 32.8 percent from three. 

    At 6'8", he's put on considerable muscle, which helps for playing through contact on drives and finishes but also allows him to play power forward, where his lack of wiggle won't be as big an issue.

    His upside shines most on grab-and-go transition takes and ball screens. He's strong and fast in the open floor, and he shows a comfort level making reads and passes off the dribble.

    Despite an inconsistent jumper and poor free-throw numbers, he hit 61 threes in a total of 59 games, looking plenty competent when set. A first-time viewer watching him release would likely be surprised to learn that shooting isn't considered a strength.

    Defensively, Avdija's results have been mixed, but a path to become useful in the NBA exists. He's vulnerable guarding in space away from the basket, but he still guards with effort. He's better suited to defend 4s, using his strength and willingness to get physical in the post. And he plays with an encouraging sense of alertness and IQ for making rotations and reads off the ball. 

    Overall, some scouts still question how effective Avdija's creation will be against NBA defenses given his higher center of gravity when ball-handling. And his ceiling will take a hit if he continues to shoot below 35 percent from deep.

    But his body, versatility, competitiveness, effectiveness against pros and willingness to play different roles all point to Avdija possessing one of the draft's highest floors. He projects as a fit for every team in the lottery.

1. Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)

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    Draft projection: Top 10

    While scouts sound split on how high to rank Killian Hayes, he's our No. 1 international prospect after making key improvements since last season.

    Even if he didn't, Hayes would have fallen in the Nos. 3-5 range based on his 6'5" positional size, playmaking and track record dating back to 2017, when he won MVP of both the U16 European Championship and Jordan Brand Classic International Game. 

    Hayes is a natural passer with terrific feel and pace operating out of pick-and-rolls. Playing the entire season at 18 years old, he finished third in Eurocup in assists with Ratiopharm Ulm. Still, his rise on draft boards should be attributed to his scoring efficiency, sharper moves for shot-creation and increased shot-making confidence.

    He shot 58.0 percent at the rim and flashed new step-back and pull-up footwork for creating separation and shooting off the dribble. And after making 14 threes in 34 games in 2018-19, he hit 30 in 33 combined games this past season, a promising development despite a 29.4 percent three-point mark.

    Converting 41.1 percent of his dribble jumpers and hitting 87.6 percent of his free throws are more encouraging signs of touch that point to a path for more shooting improvement.

    NBA scouts do question his lack of burst for a primary ball-handler, which could be a problem if his outside shot doesn't get much better. But there is too much to bet on with Hayes, whose age, tools, facilitating expertise, expanding skill set and effectiveness overseas reflect a well-rounded scouting profile.

                    

    Stats courtesy of RealGM and Synergy Sports, unless otherwise indicated.