Notable 2021 NBA Draft Prospects

We are getting close to the date of the 2021 NBA Draft. Really. Finally, the awful 2020 is over. Anyway. In this piece, we dive into international players born in 2000, 2001, and 2002, who have the potential to be a stash option, UDFA sign, or solid pick in the NBA Draft.

2000s

Carlos Alocén

  • Current Team: Real Madrid
  • Nationality: Spain
  • Position: Point guard
  • Height: 6’5’’
  • Draft rate: 3 stars

Every time I think of Carlos Alocén’s NBA potential and projection, I feel like I’m in a predicament.

When I’m thinking that he can be an NBA player, my reasons revolve around his court vision, BBIQ, the combination of handling and dribbling, ability to make score off the dribble, decent shooting, and impressive off-court personality. Also, he has been playing for three years in one of the toughest professional leagues in Europe.

Being a good passer could make you an NBA player, however, also, you have to make an impact with your ability to make a score. Despite Alocén showing nice flashes around the basket with layups, runners, floaters, etc. I don’t think he can be a good finisher or drive creator at the level of the NBA. He has a good size, 6’5’’ but his finishing ability in traffic and drive initiation are not good enough as you would like.

In this case, it looks like the main weapon (in terms of individual scoring) that he can translate to the NBA is shooting. But I think it might be wrong to draft Alocén because he can shoot. You can still rely on his shooting mechanics, but if that’s the only reason, you might be wrong. He needs consistency.

Defensively, I can buy his leadership and smart rotations. He does pretty good job positionally, knows where and when he should make moves around the perimeter, and is a solid pick-and-roll defender. He’s also pretty good at the POA. However, his lack of elite strength might hurt his defense against shifty guards and physical ballhandlers in my opinion.

Artūrs Žagars

  • Current Team: Joventut Badalona
  • Nationality: Latvia
  • Position: Point guard
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

Artūrs Žagars’ basketball IQ, feels for the game, and court vision makes him a different guard in his generation in my opinion. Because, really, every time that he has the ball, he shows at least one “wow” moment, if he leads the action.

He knows how to exploit the defenders, shows a pretty good handle and dribble skill-set, is able to play at different speeds, has a good decision-making mechanism, can make score off the dribble, has good smoothness around the glass, and can shoot the ball.

However, his biggest problem that limits his NBA projection is about the body. Žagars has average length for a guard but he is very thin and has almost no elite weapons in terms of athleticism. This makes his defensive skills completely below average in the first place, then prevents him from doing things more comfortably on offense. That’s why I don’t describe Žagars as a solid draft pick. Yes, you can be a good NBA player despite having issues physically, like Steph Curry, or can be an average NBA player, like Monte Morris. But in this case, you have an elite shooting ability or your efficiency in off-ball games is very high. Žagars has not both these things.

Henri Drell

  • Current Team: Pesaro
  • Nationality: Estonia
  • Position: Small forward
  • Height: 6’9’’
  • Draft rate: 2 stars

Henri Drell has the size and athleticism that NBA teams are looking for these days. He is a pretty smooth athlete, possesses a quick first step, and body control to navigate tight spaces.

Drell makes a lot of buckets on off-ball motions, he’s not good enough while the ball is in his hands. Actually, he has the ability to attack the basket, make a pass, and make the shot. He is also physically good and his athleticism is above average. But he’s bad at putting all the pieces together and making an impact on the court in my opinion. The shot is not as consistent as you would like, and he sometimes forces the game too much when going to the basket. He does decent jobs on swing and react passes but there is no passing skill or court vision that can add depth to the game.

Defensively, he shows a lot of effort and reads, comes to the table with deflections, however, it’s easy to beat him in live dribble situations or pick-and-roll games.

Rokas Jokubaitis

  • Current Team: Zalgiris Kaunas
  • Nationality: Lithuania
  • Position: Shooting guard
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Draft rate: 3.5 stars 

In Euroleague, Jokubaitis is averaging 8.9 points, 2.6 assists while shooting 58% inside the arc, and 38.9% behind the 3-point line.

In today’s NBA, it’s easy to make up for physical lacks for a point guard, if he knows how to play PnR. Because making snake/host tricks, being a shifty ballhandler can be enough. In this area, Jokubaitis, who had impressive moments against the Ball Bros game a few years ago, is almost elite.

Playing in 10 matches in Euroleague so far, Jokubaitis is scoring 0.95 points per possession while he plays as a handler in PnRs, according to InStat Basketball. Some notable guards who are behinds him in this area: Elijah Bryant, Shane Larkin, Marius Grigonis, Scottie Wilbekin, Jayson Granger, Kevin Punter and Tyler Dorsey, all typically considered good PnR handlers. On the shooting side, Jokubaitis does pretty well as usual. Some of his shooting choices were questionable in the past years, I think he was using unnecessary shots but he’s shooting more sensibly this season — volume is not too high but not too low. I don’t think there are any major changes in his shooting form, same for the versatility: off the dribble, CnS, pull-up, runners, etc.

I don’t think he is ready for the NBA as a defender. However, there are some reasons to trust his projection as a defender. While he runs to closeouts, he shows impressive footwork technique and eye-hand coordination with his quickness. He chases the offense very well around the screens but sometimes it’s easy to dislodge him due to his lack of elite physical tools. He has the willingness, the motor runs high but his physical limitations are a huge question mark in general.

Artūrs Kurucs

  • Current Team: Baskonia
  • Nationality: Latvia
  • Position: Shooting guard
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

With an excellent work ethic and character, Artūrs Kurucs is one of the best shooters of his generation. Having a very smooth and consistent shooting form, Kurucs can be efficient in any shooting style. He can enter the Lane and finish the possession after snake/host-like movements, he prepares the mid-range position well and is a solid athlete in general.

However, as a passer, handler, and finisher he is a little below average in my opinion. I don’t think he’s a turnover-prone or a selfish player; I think the reason he’s not good in these categories is that he doesn’t have the skills that fit those categories.

Defensively, he is decent overall. A quick and agile player Kurucs has good footwork to make defense around the perimeter, and is effective to break the offense’s game.

Overall, Kurucs’ shooting threat rises his NBA stock, it’s clear. However, lack of finishing in traffic, elite size, and hustle plays hurt him.

Vrenz Bleijenbergh

  • Current Team: Antwerp Giants
  • Nationality: Belgium
  • Position: Small forward
  • Height: 6’10’’
  • Draft rate: 3.5 stars

The Belgian prospect has been on the radar of many basketball teams since the under-16 tournaments because he fits the definition of point forward, one of the most sought-after archetypes of basketball. And shows pretty good things this season.

He scored 80 points, made 18 assists, grabbed 29 rebounds while shooting 35.9% from the 3-points line at the Eurocup level. He clearly can shoot the ball consistently. The best thing here is his self-confidence. For example, against Virtus Bologna and Lietkabelis Panevezys, he was excellent in terms of shooting with huge self-confidence.

However, if I was a decision-maker to pick a prospect, I would like to see more flashes about his shooting flashes, and we still have time to the 2021 NBA Draft. At this point, I think he has shown enough flashes in terms of attacks to the rim. He has solid ballhandling, is very comfortable with the ball while he changes the direction, has soft touch around the rim, can finishes over the rim protectors thanks to his physical tools, doesn’t have excellent first step but decent, and knows how to finish through the contact very well.

As a passer, I think Bleijenbergh, who has good off the court life with huge work ethic and discipline, still has room to improve. He sees the court but it’s hard for him to make true pass all the time. Sometimes, he can get a little bit selfish but I don’t define him as a full-time selfish player.

Bleijenbergh has grab-and-go ability which is important. Because you know, scoring point in a short time after getting the rebound means more possession for your team. And in today’s NBA, players who increase their possession are valuable. Bleijenbergh is versatile and has this ability.

Although he has physically impressive tools, he can’t yet deliver what you may wait for. Because sometimes, he can over-help, is asleep as an off the ball defender, and it’s easy to get him to bite with pump fakes behind the 3-point line. However, you can see his defensive upside. If I have trust in my coaches to develop him at the defensive end, it isn’t a huge problem.

Nikita Mikhailovskii

  • Current Team: Avtador
  • Nationality: Russia
  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 6’7”
  • Draft rate: 3 stars 

Nikita Mikhailovskii, who plays aggressively on the offense, is a unique player in his generation when it comes to making the right decisions when the ball is in hand. He can show his BBIQ and playing feelings all over the court and does his job well as a team player.

He has a natural athleticism, shows an impressive combination of dribbling and handling on his way to basketball, has better dribbling penetration to the right, and is very efficient at making money in the open court.

Despite having a good length, he has a huge issue with his strength. He has a hard time getting around to the basket, and I think that’s the most important thing that makes it difficult for him to become a high-volume scorer.

Defensively, he bases what he brings to the table on energy, positioning knowledge, and anticipation. He reads positions fast and reacts fast.

Ousmane Diop

  • Current Team: Reale Mutua Torino
  • Nationality: Senegal
  • Position: Power forward
  • Height: 6’8’’
  • Draft rate: 2 stars

Ousmane Diop, who has not been in any youth events throughout his career, has reached quite impressive numbers in Legadue Gold since 2018-2019. Diop had the most productive year of his career this season, he’s an excellent interior scorer, can make score in high-post, is good enough in PnR games, and possesses smooth and explosive athleticism tricks.

Especially when he gets the ball around the nail, he can easily go to the basketball with short dribble penetrations and score points. He is very strong and has ideal strength for the NBA level. But what limits his NBA projection has to do with his physique. Diop, who has a big problem with three-point shots, does not have the ideal length to be an elite center. Still, his mobility and interior scoring are impressive. However, before the NBA, I would like to see him in more competitive leagues. So, maybe giving a 10-day contract could be the best choice.

Filip Petrušev

  • Current Team: Mega Bemax
  • Nationality: Serbia
  • Position: Center
  • Height: 6’11”
  • Draft rate: 3.5 stars

Playing as a major scorer for Mega Bemax, Filip Petrušev has been doing for Mega what he’s done for Gonzaga for two years. He adds nothing new to his offensive or defensive arsenals.

He shows his ability and mobility in low-post games and pick-and-roll situations, can make money thanks to his smooth athleticism in high-paced offenses, is a good lob target thanks to his explosiveness and paint touch, has decent last touch overall, and adequate scorer off the dribble. However, he still struggles in face-up games, and also hasn’t extended his shooting range.

On the defensive end, I don’t think he has a clear ability to translate into the NBA in any way. Sometimes he can make effective blocks, but I think he may have a hard time doing this against NBA centers.

There are still two more places for European bigs in the NBA who can’t shoot in today’s basketball: dunker spot or CnF. Petrusev has demonstrated in his career so far that he can take on both roles, a good rebounder, and a team player. Although the lack of shooting can negatively affect his stock, it may be wise to pick him late in the second-round.

2001s

Mario Nakić

  • Current Team: Filou Oostende
  • Nationality: Serbia
  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 6’6’’
  • Draft rate: 3 stars

Mario Nakić is one of the players in Oostende’s young core. Nakić, who played for Real Madrid for three years didn’t make his jump well to the senior team of Real Madrid after he played well in youth categories. Then, he loaned to Oostende. And this year he’s playing impressive basketball in my opinion.

Averaging 11.2 points in five games, Nakić looks better in all terms.

In my opinion, there is nothing extraordinary to the reason why he plays better this year. He plays the same basketball. He still has quick slashing ability with solid handling and good dribble penetration. Nakić still good as a shooter. He uses his same form, same footwork, nothing extraordinary improving on his body… However, I think that there is a very critical point: mentality.

While he was playing in Real Madrid, I always thinking about his self-confidence, esp, when he has the ball to create his slashing angle. He was a little bit shy with the ball; he was a hesitant slasher. When the defensive line does good ICE/drop in PnRs, Nakić was playing like he forgot everything he thought. However, this year, he does pretty good to handle the pressure.

For example, there was a sequence in the game between Ostende vs Mons-Hainaut that Nakić ran the PnR in the right wing but Mons-Hainaut tried to drop it. Then, Nakić did a good job to handle the ball. Mons did a double team on him but Nakić was still cool with the ball, he was watching what happens under the basket. He made a turnover but after that sequence, he was still on the game, he didn’t give up. And scored a bunch of points. In recent years, he was falling out of the game very quickly in such sequences. He was bad mentally.

About his NBA projection, Nakić is valuable because he can stretch the floor with his shooting ability and he sometimes can be a spacing slasher with his attack to the basket ability. Defensively, nothing extraordinary but you probably will know what you can make with his defense. So, he is kinda like a solid defender who plays with average levels.

My concerns about his NBA projection mostly revolves around his physical tools and athleticism level. Nakić has good length and is still improving to add more muscles but I don’t see any glorious upside here. Also, same for his athleticism. I mean, okay, he is a good slasher with leaping, lateral, and linear moves but he can be ineffective a lot to split the rim protectors. Unless he can be a very dangerous shooter, these two rooms will affect his NBA projection a lot.

Tarik Biberović

  • Current Team: Fenerbahce Beko
  • Nationality: Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Position: Guard
  • Height: 6’6’’
  • Draft rate: 2 stars

The best part of his game on the offensive end his shooting in my opinion. So, Biberović’s game mostly revolves around spotting up for the 3-pointers, but also, he is able to create his own shot off the dribble, reading what the defense gives. While doing it, Biberović moves very well without the ball, finding great angles/spacing in his opponent’s defense. He isn’t the quickest shooter in the world but I think even for the NBA standards, his shooting form makes him a very valuable shooter. Biberović has a very nice shooting form with decent speed in his release. His high extension, quick and parallel footwork and release making it difficult for most players to contest or block his shot.

Biberović is a great mid-range operator in my opinion. I wouldn’t say Biberović is the perfect rim attacker, but he’s very good at creating his own position for one-dribble jumpers after getting the ball. He’s able to do this even against his opponent’s pesky defense. He adjusts his steps well, knows drop/load well, and can find mid-range hits with his nice form. But the problem is that he sometimes uses the mid-range even when he gets a very obvious 3-point chance. I think he should be a more confident three-point shooter in this regard. When you look at his shooting percentages, you see that he has not achieved good results since 2018, which doesn’t mean he is a bad shooter. Considering his shooting form and that he hasn’t found consistent playing time at the highest levels of competition-which can affect his rhythm as a shooter-I believe that Biberović can develop into a good “screen the screener”, off-ball and movement shooter.

As a dribbler and passer he’s shown some early signs of future development. I think Biberović is an unselfish passer whose size, craftiness, and ability to play at different speeds give him budding ability as a playmaker. The Bosnian prospect is a capable driver with either hand, with a good handle and a strong body, and does not shy away from contact in my opinion. He’s showed that he is a good drive-and-dish type passer. He can dribble with his left as well as his right.

Tarik Biberović is not the strongest nor the best defender of the team, he has a lot of room for improvement as an interior defender. But this kid’s game concentration, energy and team awareness always remains consistent. I said he should learn to use his own physical tools on the offensive end, but I think the same is not true on the defense. Because I think that Biberović uses his body, active hands, BBIQ, body coordination well around the perimeter and the three-point line when defending PGs, SGs, and SFs. He’s aggressive and focused on that end.

Tarık Biberović has potential as one of the top shooters among international players born in 2001 in my opinion. He has an excellent shooting BBIQ. Plus, his size & frame is even ready for NBA levels. But the rim attack, the lack of self-confidence in on the ball offense and what he will do on the defense when he plays too many matches are question marks in my mind. Also, I think his athleticism is the biggest problem. But Biberović’s work discipline, working with a legend like Željko Obradović after growing up in a good culture, and having a perfect organization besides Obradović increases his development potential in every sense. Would it be a gamble to pick him? I don’t think so because his shot, solid defense is already on the table. Is lack of matches an issue? Yes. But for his NBA level, the G-League one year and then the NBA might be something more right. I think his improvement curve this season will be very important.

Gora Camara

  • Current Team: Novipiu Casale Monferrato
  • Nationality: Senegal
  • Position: Center
  • Height: 7’0’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

7-foot-0 Senegalese big man plays like a traditional center. He is an excellent lob target, has good touch around the basket, can jump off of one foot very well but has the habit of two feet leaping. Camara knows how to use his impressive physical tools in traffic to make money and does a good job in pick-and-roll games. He has good hip mobility and uses it very well while rolling to the basket. I think that he has very good mobility for his size. And he also can use his mobility in post-up games. He doesn’t have any fancy tricks in post-up but it’s hard to defend him while he uses his shoulder with hip mobility.

He doesn’t have much shooting ability, but this year he shows some good flashes in free throws. So, maybe he has the upside?

So Camara’s NBA potential at the offensive end revolves around his role as a catch-and-finisher and dunker spot man. But the most important thing that separates him from the other bigs that Camara knows very well how to coordinate his body and find his balance in the air as he goes with the ball to the basket. And unlike many centers whose physical tools are impressive, Camara has a good last touch. I think that makes him a solid NBA pick in every sense.

Defensively, he is a classical big man. He can protect the rim with his body and explosive athleticism. He does a good job in post-up but that’s it. I can’t define him as a good off the ball defender or PnR defender. At the end of the day, the fact that he doesn’t play basketball at an elite level (in terms of league) may raise questions. But I think it is important that he isn’t a raw prospect and fills his 7-foot-0 length with muscle. Also, he already has some advanced tricks. So, a good option for late second-round in my opinion.

Aleksander Balcerowski

  • Current Team: Gran Canaria
  • Nationality: Poland
  • Position: Center
  • Height: 7’1’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

One of the NBA prospects from Gran Canaria, Aleksander Balcerowski has been on high-level tiers radar thanks to his physical tools. Standing 7-foot-1 with a strong upper body frame, Balcerowski looks like an old-fashion center at the first glance. However, when you watch this 20-year-old Polish big man, you realizes that his mobility and court vision in PnR situations, decent shooting, and quickness with the ball make him a different center.

It’s hard to define him as a clear floor spacer, however, he is also not a nail offensive player. Balcerowski is pretty quick for his size, knows how to goes to the basket with the ball or without the ball, has great leaping off one foot, and his vision while rolling is charming. Also, his body coordiation is also good. However, he sometimes can have easy misses around the basket, and this creates question mark in my mind. Because clearly, if he went to the NBA, he won’t have huge minutes, his role will be minor looks like. So he has to add clear touch around the basket.

On the defensive end, he is active in passing lanes but sometimes can get be lazy to recovery, active on the glass but it’s hard to define him as a nail defender in my opinion.

Nelly Joseph Jr.

  • Current Team: Iona
  • Nationality: Nigeria
  • Position: Power forward-Center
  • Height: 6’9’’
  • Draft rate: 3 stars

Nelly Joseph looks like a traditional C at first glance since he can’t shoot, but his dribble and court vision package make him a modern-era C, I think. Of course, his major offensive weapon is diving to the rim with excellent mobility, strong first step, vertical pop, high BBIQ, aggressiveness and good timing. A dominant presence around the rim, NJJ is a great lob target whose sheer size&frame makes him effective in the post as well. He can finish in traffic, can change direction both ground and air. Has a wide dunking package; one hand, two hands, reverse, alley-oop, long step… However, my favorite things about him are not these things. A talented big man with an average feel for the game, Joseph can dribble both full-court and half-court. That’s why I see him as the modern-era big man. If you watch Nelly’s three games at Hoophall and the matches he played in 2019 EYBL, you can see how creative his handling is for a C. After taking the rebound, he can dribble in the full court and scores around the basket. While in the half court he waits in the corner or wing channels, shows his burst and stop-go-stop ability when the ball comes to him, and dribbles quickly into the basket.

Showing great combination of timing and movement, also, physicality on the defensive end, Nelly Joseph can use his tools very well. In my opinion, NJJ doing a pretty nice job shooting gaps to get in the passing lanes. His rim protection is excellent. There is no impressive block threat like Yannick Nzosa, Adem Bona, Ibou Dianko Badji, but he moves well both laterally and vertically, keeping his body balanced and using his hands perfectly while defending his opponents around the rim. 

He could be a good NBA player with his knowledge on defense and his ability to combine a dribbling and handling package on offense with good painted area efficiency. He has to improve his shot, get stronger and should add better motor.

Tom Digbeu

  • Current Team: Prienu
  • Nationality: France
  • Position: Guard
  • Height: 6’5’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

He is an excellent athlete to get to the rim. Quick first step, change direction ability both on the ground and in the air and solid ballhandling allow him to exploit closeouts and attack to the basket dominantly. Not shifty but quickness and smoothness with a little bit of explosiveness work very well to get him to the line generally. Nice hesitations and very good at live dribble situations but sometimes can be too careless. Reliable finisher with a high arc and solid touch. Knows how to use his body to make money through contact and in traffic. Not a good passer but his slashing ability allows him a lot of drive-and-kick situations and he usually uses if the defensive line prepares for him. However, not good to make the play in stationary or low tempo. Not good as a shooter but can still improve in this issue. His improving curve as a shooter will be a red line about his NBA projection.

Engaged, high-level motor defender. Can guard the first three positions. Can stay in front of both point guards and smaller fours. Wants to make pesky defense and while doing it, uses his eye-hand coordination, footwork, BBIQ and aggressiveness, also, body control. Has the tools to be an excellent perimeter defender but not too great in this issue. Decent defender overall but would like to see him at least BCL level to say something clearly.

Amar Sylla

  • Current Team: Oostende
  • Nationality: Senegal
  • Position: Guard
  • Height: 6’9’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

Strong and above the average athlete. Shows some flashes of explosive offensive ability, especially when he cuts from the corners. Excellent as an open court ballhandler but not too great when things come half-court game as a dribbler. Should add some solid handling but reliable in short DHO situations. Interior scoring is good, usually finishes with the right hand but also can use the left. Good hustle plays, transition dunks and dribble drive to the rim. Not good on shooting. Has shown his ability to hit the ball as a catch-and-shooter but inconsistent always.

Has tools and athleticism to be a versatile defender in the NBA. Excellent quickness in feet, good linearly, vertically, and laterally but should add soma awareness and anticipations. Not a defensive anchor but a good weak-side shot blocker and will become a more effective rim protector if he can add more strength.

Ismael Kamagate

  • Current Team: Paris
  • Nationality: France
  • Position: Center
  • Height: 6’11’’
  • Draft rate: 3.5 stars

Excellent size and frame even for the NBA levels. Explosive athlete but also has a little bit of shiftiness as a dunker spot man. As a great interior catch-and-finish scorer, post-up player, and average lob target, he does his best jobs on the offensive end around the basket. He frequently operates one-on-one in the post. Shows a lot of great things here in my opinion. I mean, While playing post offense, he demonstrated that he can outperform defenders of all styles. With short hooks, reverse spins and hip turns tricks, he can use rim perfectly while showing good hop, leap ability. So can use the net part of the rim for the score after the second step. He can prepare his post-up plays very well and quick with taking contact, leg tricks. He also does good job with his effort level changing ends, moving off the ball, and crashing the traps. He is not a great pick-and-roll roller yet, has to learn play as a roller in my opinion. He is a good interior catch-and-finish scorer, drive-and-dish target. Can play good as a back-to-the-basket player but needs to improve his face-up game in my opinion. Can stretch the floor with his off the ball motions on the offensive end but for more, he has to add shooting weapon his arsenal.

A physical defender, he does much of his best work on the defensive end protecting the painted area. He is not an excellent rim protector and not a good switch defender, but despite being 6-foot-11 and having the physical tools like a classical, old-school European big, he is versatile on the defensive end. He can put pressure on the shooters, defend them with his good wingspan and lateral movement, not giving them a good shooting angle. In pick-and-roll games, while sliding over the handler over the roller, he can use his body and close the first dribble area of ​​his opponent, not giving the opponent the chance to hop or one-dribble pull up chances. He cannot do well against moving and quick guards, cannot defend the burst technique, but he has a good switch potential in general. I think he understands, reads, and reacts well to the game. He uses his BBIQ against post-ups. Also, he can use well his body and his balance in vertical jumps. In off the ball motions, he sometimes makes unnecessary help defense, leaves his own man open, he needs to develop in this in my opinion.

Gregor Glas

  • Current Team: KK Dynamic
  • Nationality: Slovenia
  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 6’6’’
  • Draft rate: 2 stars

Consistent shooter with pretty good form. Above average athlete overall, is explosive and can play above the rim. Also, he has some fluidity to create separation. Glas does not have a good first step but can make up for it with his high release on floaters, runners, layups, etc. He does not need too much space to make the shot, knows how to create his timing-zone. Excels in open-court, almost excellent runner without the ball to make money. Glas is not a good passer and doesn’t have great court vision.

Defensively, has shown flashes of good anticipations and awareness. Also, he knows to make good rotations from downhill but overall, not a good enough defender in my opinion.

Efe Abogidi

  • Current Team: Washington State
  • Nationality: Nigeria
  • Position: Center
  • Height: 6’10’’
  • Draft rate: 3 stars

Abogidi, who received a Washington State scholarship after playing at NBA Academy, has done some impressive work in the season so far. He can make an impact with his athleticism on both sides of the court, has excellent agility and explosiveness, as well as his mobility and exceptional leaping ability, keeping him active in pick-and-roll situations while allowing him activeness on off the ball motions. Although he has shown good post-up and shooting flashes several times, it’s hard to describe him as a clear stretch or all-around center.

On the defensive end, his athleticism makes him an elite rim protector. He has a good balance both in the air and on the ground and can protect the rim with high efficiency by closing the angles of his opponents.

Abogidi has suffered three injuries in the past years. It is clear that his injury history is not good, but his potential and what he has demonstrated so far may be enough to make a gamble in the late second-round for him.

Santi Aldama

  • Current Team: Loyola Maryland
  • Nationality: Spain
  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 6’11’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

A talented, cold-blooded player, Santi Aldama’s offensive role revolves around his jump shots and cut plays. He’s a great cutter (slips, backdoor cuts) showing amazing offensive awareness. Aldama knows how to space the floor, finishes smartly with good touch, pretty impressive body control, strong first step, and aggressively above the rim. Especially when Aldama used the screens from the left-wing and right corner, he made almost no mistakes as a cutter. Santi, who has a good burst for his position, can do impressive footwork tricks to rule out the player defending him during off-ball motions. He does not have elite lateral movement while doing this but can be effective due to his BBIQ, timing and coordination. A capable shooter, Aldama is very dangerous in catch-and-shoot situations. He can’t create his shots outside (can create around the perimeter) but in catch-and-shoot, Santi is a hot shooter. After a finger injury after the 2019 FIBA ​​U18 European Championships, he didn’t perform well in his first season at Loyola, in terms of shooting, but Santi has done well in the past two years. I think he has really fluid shooting mechanics for someone that is 6-foot-11.

The release and his mechanics is high. I think lack of strength hurt him shooting from the wings. Power is paramount when shooting from the wings, it is very important to give momentum to the ball. He mainly relies on his left channel dribble to set up driving offense. He can dribble open court and half-court but Aldama is not very efficient at using the right channels well. He can score in the post, showing nice spin moves and hooks but he needs to be more confident dribbling the ball which will allow him to improve his face up game. He is not a good transition, PnR handler and roller guy. His arsenal isn’t deep, he is not a player who can make crafty assists or has shifty handling skills, just a reliable handler with average court vision but I think he doesn’t need those things. Because Aldama is good as a cutter in the painted area. He’s a good shooter, a threat as a floor-spacer and he is 6-foot-11. So, if he gains weight and adds muscle, he will be a good modern era player.

I think Santiago Aldama’s high BBIQ and maturity often make up for his lack of strength and athleticism in man-on-man defensive games. Last summer, Spain played 2–3 zone on defense in four games. While Santi was in that defensive set up, he was often in a role that could put pressure on the right channels and switch the pivot but to be honest, he wasn’t very good in that role. He couldn’t concentrate on the shooters. In man-to-man defense, Santi is one of the players that the modern era needs. Santi Aldama, who can guard multiple positions thanks to his physical tools, can stay in front of quicker guards and forwards thanks to his lateral movement and eye-hand coordination, can stay in front of bigs thanks to his length and hand positions (up-down movement).

2002s

Roko Prkačin

  • Current Team: Cibona
  • Nationality: Croatia
  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 6’9’’
  • Draft rate: 4.5 stars

Versatile forwards set themselves apart with slashing and shooting and Roko Prkačin has both of these bullets in his offensive arsenal. But there are a few issues with the shot form and he is not a consistent 3-points shooter yet.

Prkačin has been able to have success as a shooter even though he has some mechanical issues. The elbow point start under his chest consistently which is good. However, his shot pocket is not good in my opinion. He sets the ball down to a good level to get enough momentum but keeps the ball too far from his body. He creates a 90-degree angle in his pocket but too far from his body to create a good arc and maximize his strength, but he has the finger strength and touch to do it.

His load time is average, as well as his time to release, which is ideal for his length. He releases from above the head, holding the ball to the right of his head, with his right hand over his right shoulder. He places his balance hand with a good angle and precision. There is also almost no problem with the final touch in the air and the feeling of the ball in the palm but his wrist goes inwards as he releases his shot. But another major problem that negatively affects his shooting is jumping. His leap is very weird in my opinion. Prkačin aligns his knees well, he bends his waist and hips at a 45-degree angle parallel to the floor. He knows how to take power from his feet, but his knees sometimes go out of the ideal setup. Especially the left kneecap is sometimes too exposed or too close. More stability is required here but that should come with strength.

In short, he should bring the ball a little closer to his core and torso in his shot pocket, and be more balanced in his lift. Roko Prkačin is not a versatile shooter. He’s significantly improved his shooting ability since 2018 but he hasn’t shown much more to his shooting identity. He just showed his ability to stretch the floor as a shooter off the catch.

He took the role of CnS in 85% of his shots this year. In the remaining possessions, he shot as a pick-and-pop shooter and self-creator. But I don’t think that’s a big problem. Elite CnS shooting is enough, but if he can add the PnR threat to his offensive arsenal, then he will increase his value even more. I think Prkačin is a respectful shooter but interestingly a lot of the teams in ABA and Croatian Leagues are willing to let him shoot.

Overall, I think he’s an above-average shooter and has enough threat to stretch. But from the NBA window, he should improve the strange leap in the shot form so he can shoot more comfortably against some physical and aggressive, pesky defenses in the NBA. Also, Prkačin absolutely has to keep the ball close to his body in the shot pocket to avoid the defender’s steal. Because in the NBA, some defenders are really can create a massive problem for him.

Prkačin is a good slasher in my opinion. He goes better to the left than the right in slashing/catch-and-drives situations, and is able to integrate his BBIQ with body coordination, soft-touch finishing, and aggressiveness in these positions.

In the BBIQ part, Prkačin’s body positioning and timing of choosing the area to drive are good clues. He takes a lower offensive stance than the opponent’s before attacking the rim, making it difficult for the defender to steal.

When the defender places his body in his low-attack position, he goes in the opposite direction. When the defender uses his hip mobility and his hop to defend, Prkačin turns in the other direction. After that, he shifts his body onto the defender, who has lost his balance, then, leaps in perfect timing and protects the ball with his elbows and goes smoothly into the basket.

The finishing, nice wrist movement, and soft touch when he is close to the basket, and the ability to use the glass are impressive things. However, he lacks a little bit of leaping that hurts him as a finisher. He cannot do efficient things in positions where he is far from the basket and remains stable. If he wants to be a more efficient player in the NBA, I think he needs to level up in this regard. Because the rim protectors, which perfectly protect the basket, can cover him easily under the basket (not including the slashing but should add some floater 100%) and generally has to expand the under the basket spacing of his team. But he is only 18 years old and has enough time to improve in this regard.

Prkačin is an excellent off the ball motion player. This season, he already scored 32 points with just backdoor and curl cuts so far. Because he is not a primary ballhandler and often waits behind the 3-point line on offense, he does a good job of manipulating the opponent and creating easy cuts. And the most important thing here is his activity. In off the ball motions, he strives not only for himself but also for ball sharing. I think it is important that he can be a pass station and it’s allow his team to continue the flow of attack.

 Prkačin showed some good examples where he has a good drop to the baseline, nice mobility, reverse quickness and smoothness in post-up situations. However, overall, he cannot push or dislodge the defender. Also, the lack of elite vertical pop does not allow him long post-up shots. He has room to improve physically and a finishing window here in my opinion.

Not an advanced passer but also not bad. Good read and react passer with nice vision for the game, solid handling, quick DHOs, and game awareness. Not above average but also not below. However, he sometimes gambles too much in skip passes, that creates a problem sometimes.

Playing as a secondary or third handler, Prkačin has good ability handling the ball. Solid but when he starts the open floor game, he shows his ability to changes the ball’s momentum, direction, and bounce very well. He just cannot do these things in half-court plays, but it’s not necessary too much.

On the defensive end, Roko Prkačin is a quite different defender from traditional power forward and centers, in my opinion. He’s not a good rim protector and not a very threatening shot-blocker, but he does excellent jobs on the defensive end with quickness around the perimeter, active hands, good body coordination, dynamism, and above average BBIQ.

His lateral and linear quickness on the defensive end is much better than on the offensive end. And in this way, he is able to cover his opponent’s shifty footwork, fast backdoor-curl-flash-UCLA cuts and drive-pass-shoot angle creation efforts by using a screen.

In doing so, he gets good energy from the hips and it allows him quickness and change of direction ability. His feet really can move on the floor. Thanks to this ability, Prkačin can easily turn to the angle of the attacker when the attacker starts to drive to the basket. He can shift his body to the attacker’s drive zone. In addition, he raises his one hand in the direction of his opponent, legally pushing his opponent from the chest with the other hand, reducing the opponent’s momentum and strength.

But Prkačin can easily be dislodged in these positions sometimes because he makes a lot of gambles in passing lanes. So I think he’s fit for switch defense, as he’s demonstrated many times throughout his career. He fits a switch defense in terms of both physical, body position, and athleticism. In addition, the engine and energy are important here. But in passing lanes, more calmness is needed.

Roko Prkačin is the kind of basketball player that modern basketball calls for. He has a promising 3-point weapon on the offensive arsenal, although it is inconsistent, he can feel the game, see the court, is not selfish, can create his own position, can attack the basket from both wings, has both fluid and explosive athletic skills, can adapt to the tempo of the team, does not hesitate to take responsibility in clutch moments, cannot be stopped in transition situations, and generally makes the right decisions in the game.

But there are many technical and fundamental things to improve in pick-and-roll situations and generating points from post-ups. He plays like a small forward on the defensive end rather than a big. Prkačin is not an elite shot-blocker or rim protector, but these aren’t huge issues because he is a basketball player who is willing to defend and can move his feet. He can learn how to protect the rim more effectively. Physically and from the windows of athletics, Prkačin has the ideal things to keep up with the NBA pace but he can improve his vertical pop a little more. Also, like every prospect, he has to physically maintain his development curve, but I think his current tools are close to ideal.

Abramo Canka

  • Current Team: Nevėžis
  • Nationality: Italy
  • Position: Guard-Forward
  • Height: 6’6’’
  • Draft rate: 3.5 stars

Abramo Canka is a scorer first and an adequate ballhandler. Canka does much of his best work on the offensive end as a one-on-one and around the basket finisher. He lacks elite soft touch but does solid and smart touch work. Canka can finish both hands at the rim but usually uses his right. He has a strong, very strong step which allows him a change direction ability on the ground and a nice hop before jumping off of one foot (he also jumps off of two feet and can absorb the contact, can finish with using snake skill-set but not consistent) thanks to his almost elite body coordination.

He usually finds his buckets around the basket or as a slasher, from right-wing or top of the key. He dribbles from these areas usually. He is not an elite smart finisher but has some tricks here. He has constant speed changed to control the pace. So, he dribbles the ball fast-low-fast and breaks his opponent’s mind, opponent’s defensive line after that goes to the basket, gets in from of the defender (so doing with this, he protect the ball and close his opponent’s shot blocking angle), jump and finish with using the glass smartly with limited pop in the paint in traffic but as I said, showed some promising flashes. A lack of elite upper body strength and elite last touch hurt his finishing skill-set. Also, sometimes he forces the game but overall, unselfish, talented and smart finisher in my opinion. Very quick in transition situations both on the ball or off the ball player. A capable driver, Canka has not a crafty or shifty dribble the ball skill-set in the half-court. But when things come to spontaneous, out of action things, Canka’s quickness, deceptive ballhandling ability make him a great player. However, the game is not always run out of motions, so needs improve here.

Abramo Canka is able to generate his own shot around the mid-range, mostly using a crossover or burst fake before elevating for a jumper. Also, after cuts to the middle, he can hit the 2-points jumper quickly. While doing it, he reads his opponent’s footwork and reacts well. Has good BBIQ on his shots.

His shooting form looks solid, nice set-up on his feet, good angle on his knees, nice shot pocket (eye test: parallel to shoulders and a little bit above the rim) and good pop. However, I think Canka has room to polish his shooting stroke because the ball doesn’t come out smoothly on his 3-points shots every time and also generally, he doesn’t transfer energy from his hips to his shooting form, uses his upper body but as I said, his upper body is not strong yet.

Not a pick-and-roll player. Has a lot of room to learn find score as a pick-and-roll handler in my opinion. Really, the Italian prospect almost has nothing here.

Based on what I’ve seen from Abramo Canka so far, his defense is way ahead of his offense in my opinion. A pesky defender knows how to use his great length to make intense defense on his opponents, really, totally focused and active defender.

He slides laterally to cut off the ballhandler, absorbing contact on ISO situations. Also, his one hand is always up and his other hand is down, so, he avoids foul easily. He has a solid stance, turns his hips and back square to contest his opponent’s situation. If his man changes direction, two feet hop and hip rotate help him here. By pressure the ball, Abramo Canka can really control his man’s offensive vision and force him to expose the ball with smartly around the perimeter.

An aggressive, high-level motor defender, Abramo Canka has good team awareness on the defensive and. I think he has the potential to be a defensive playmaker at high-levels. Because he reads game very well, has great defensive BBIQ, nice positional defender, doing impressive things being right place on the court, keeps hand out taking away passing lanes when he’s off the ball in help. Also, the Italian prospect does a good job following his man around the screens, tagging the cutter in help and then getting back to his matchup but sometimes gambles too much around the baseline and under the basket. Showed great rotating down but his high gaming excitement, willingness to do anything, and his lack of experience cause him to do the wrong help defense. He can overhelp despite his man waiting strong side… Needs some balance and clearly needs experience.

Good pick-and-roll defense thanks to his BBIQ and coordination which I talked about first paragraphs. His biggest improvement area on the defensive end is closeouts in my opinion. Canka does really good job closing space on the shooter thanks to his length, pop, athleticism package and BBIQ but has not great reacts timing on closeouts. He is also very quickly believing by his opponent’s shot/pass/burst fake and makes the wrong closeouts rotate. As a rim protector and shot blocker, just one thing. Occasionally blocks shots from the help side.

Abramo Canka is an energetic scorer guard who has great one-on-one scoring package, decent shooting, good awareness, aggressiveness, pass the ball skill-set and has athleticism to make score. On the defensive end, Canka is a pesky, hardworker and has great engine. Also, his off-court life is really very good.

Samuel Ariyibi

  • Current Team: NBA Academy Africa
  • Nationality: Nigeria
  • Position: Guard-Forward
  • Height: 6’8’’
  • Draft rate: 2 stars

My favorite thing about Oluwatobi Samuel Ariyibi’s offense is so much in his arsenal. I mean, he has a good potential to be a floor spacing shooter even though he’s not perfect yet, he can play around the post, he can sometimes finish in traffic, he can run and score fast in transition, he can play above the rim. In short, he can do a little bit of everything on the offensive end as a floor spacer. 6-foot-8 Ariyibi can sometimes plays like a PG and broke his opponent’s defensive shape.

As a shooter, Ariyibi does much of his best work on spotting up two-pointers. He has a nice elevation on his own shot, and he showed a lot of times that he can create his shot after one or two-dribble. He has a nice burst fake, court vision, and hop in my opinion. Also, he can hit around the mid-range as a snake-host player after the screen. From the 3-pointer window, I think Ariyibi has a lot of room to get better. He’s showed some flashes as a catch-and-shooter but not consistent. I think the main problem with his 3-pointers shot is his release. Ariyibi looks uncomfortable with his own shooting form behind the 3-point line in my opinion. His right hand is too open, and it’s creating a problem.

I am a huge fan of his pick-and-roll offense. Because Ariyibi can play as a handler after the screen with soft-touch, nice dribbling, body balance, and change direction ability on the ground. Also, he can play as a roller after the screen with good rolling timing, post footwork, and pump fakes. Naturally, he is not an efficient scorer as a roller or post-up player but has these two weapons on his own offensive arsenal and it’s perfect in my opinion. Ariyibi does struggle with finishing strong at the rim — can play above the rim on the open floor but can’t do it on half-court offense consistently — especially if any contact is made. If he can increase his ability to drive and attack the hoop strong, he will inevitably draw more fouls to get to the line in my opinion. As an off the ball player, Ariyibi showed that he can give body fakes around the wings to create his running channel. Then he runs, takes the ball, and finishes or giving a pass. I don’t think he is a good passer or handler. I would like to see him more aggressive with the ball. Lack of strength and experience (naturally) hurt his ballhandling skills in my opinion. As a passer, there are not any crafty or pocket things, just showed some flashes as a read-and-reacts passer. Despite being able to take responsibility in critical moments, I don’t think Ariyibi is a hot scorer.

Jumping to grab the ball extremely quickly, Ariyibi is a very good rebounder for his position and size in my opinion. My favorite thing about on the defensive end is his awareness. I think Ariyibi’s team awareness, directing his teammates to on-the-ball or off-the-ball action, and talking to them all the time is a big plus on his defensive package. His hands and general body are always active, he coordinates his body well, has good timing for deflections. The Nigerian prospect is not an aggressive defender, but generally fluent and trying to bring something to the table with his BBIQ. He tries his best to protect the rim by integrating his vertical pop, coordination, and physical tools, but he’s not perfect at it. Thanks to his solid stance on the ball defense and his ability to transfer good energy from low to high, Ariyibi can sometimes become a pesky defender. In addition, thanks to his lateral movement and game reading, he does not give wrong reactions to his opponent’s pump fakes. He has a lot of room to work on off the ball defense and putting pressure on shooters. He follows his opponent well off the ball but he is completely helpless against things like reverse spin, pin-down, and stagger. When his own man is gone, he has trouble doing the correct rotation, causing two vulnerabilities in the team’s defensive shape. The most important reason for not putting good pressure on the shooters is that he cannot adjust his balance well in my opinion. Sometimes very hard and sometimes very soft. His ability to defend multiple positions and high team awareness make him a good defender, but at the end of the day, I think he should work on perimeter sliding, off the ball rotate, and closeout defenses.

Zsombor Maronka

  • Current Team: Joventut Badalona
  • Nationality: Hungary
  • Position: Power forward
  • Height: 6’10’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

The NBA is looking for a unicorn from international pools after Kristaps Porzingis and Lauri Markkanen. Although Maronka isn’t at good levels physically (he has impressive length but has a lot of rooms to add weight and muscle) and athletic skills, he is a 6-foot-10 and can shoot the ball consistently. Also, he can create his shot.

He has an impressive mechanical setup on the lower body. The alignment on the knees, bending degree on the hips, jumping degree and strength, overall footwork quickness, and the arc is awesome for his size. The load time is not too fast but also not too lazy. He has over-the-shoulder release, consistent elbow points with 90-degree arc, I would like to see his left-hand a little bit more solid but it isn’t a huge problem. So he is an impressive shooter with solid mechanics, can create his shot with good versatility, and is willing to use the shot – he isn’t a force the shot guy by the way.

While some question marks coming to my mind about his level of athleticism, I also think he has good upside. He’s making dunks, attacks to the basket fluidly after pump fake, and impressive putbacks are making his limits better. I don’t think he is a decent passer and handler in the casual offense. He should work more to hit the 3-points in pick-and-pop games. Also, he has to add more threat as a roller in pick-and-roll games.

Since the quality of LEB Plata is poor, it can always be misleading to evaluate the defensive level of a prospect there. But, based on what I’ve seen so far, Maronka is a good defender when the tempo isn’t too high. He is a good defender in stationary possessions. He is good laterally and that allows him to slide around the perimeter very well. Maronka also can protect the rim but not with blocks, with his body. I mean, he does a good job to contest the shots. The Hungarian prospect knows how to use his physical tools. However, when the opposite team runs PnR or off the ball motions on his man, it’s easy to dislodge him. He isn’t too quick.

Mojave King

  • Current Team: Cairns
  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Position: Guard
  • Height: 6’5’’
  • Draft rate: 4 stars

Mojave King is an excellent shooter with smooth form from anywhere on the court. He has an impressive shooting IQ, knows where and when he takes the trigger, also, it’s hard to contest his shot because has a natural dip, consistent elbow points, impressive release, and good touch. So, I think his shooting can make him a long-term NBA player but also, his dribble penetration is an important asset.

When he dribbles to basket, uses some footwork tricks with outstanding body coordination. And his strong frame allows him to create more separation through the contact. Not an elite passer but has shown flashes of drive-and-dish, and, hasn’t soft touch in the paint, so still has room to improve but huge upside and excellent shooting already on the table.

On the defensive end, he does a pretty good job of closing-out, sliding around the perimeter, and shows effort under the basket. However, he can get scrambled against detailed offenses. So, needs some fundamental things.

Deep report coming soon… as King still hasn’t debuted in a major league. But he will very soon.

Josh Giddey

  • Current Team: Adelaide
  • Nationality: Australia
  • Position: Guard
  • Height: 6’7’’
  • Draft rate: 4 stars

Giddey is a versatile all-around guard/forward who can do just about everything on the court. Possesses excellent physical tools and has room to fill nicely. Not a born leader but excels under pressure and BBIQ is off the charts, however, would like to see him in bigger competitions and we probably will see it this year. Giddey is not an excellent athlete but the first step, change of direction and speed ability with quickness and BBIQ make up for it. He’s a good ballhandler with a little bit of shiftiness. He can see the court, a good, very good passer with elite tricks. Not a maestro in PnRs yet but has that amazing potential. Pretty nice body control and balance on dribbles. He can drive to the basket from either side and finish to the basket with lay-ups, good both one-foot jump or two feet. Not a great shooter but still improve nicely.

Quick hands, excellent length, and game instincts in the passing lanes make him a threat for the opposite team on the defensive end. Really can be pesky sometimes but not too much. Usually good in the team harmony. Can guard multiple positions, shows physicality, has good sensitivity on his hands but again, higher competitions will be important to evaluate him better.

Deep report coming soon… Still hasn’t debuted in a major league. But he will very soon.

Usman Garuba

  • Current Team: Real Madrid
  • Nationality: Spain
  • Position: Power forward/Center
  • Height: 6’8’’
  • Draft rate: 4.5 stars

Usman Garuba has been pointed to as the prospect of higher levels since 2017. Garuba, who was raised by Real Madrid, is one of the most valuable names of head coach Pablo Laso for the last two seasons.

Garuba, who has almost as much experience in EuroLeague as Luka Doncic, makes his most productive jobs on the offensive end with his speed, energy and athleticism on off-ball motions while doing effective work in many types of offense. He can be effective in cutting variations from corners to basket, can make money thanks to his solid touch and impressive strength, body positioning.

He is not effective as a roll man or post-up scorer. However, he has shown flashes of drop-step, turnaround fake, etc. This is not my biggest doubt about his offensive arsenal; my biggest doubts are his shooting and length. First, shooting. Garuba, although not a very bad shooter, has some things to fix in his shooting form, especially in his release. Of course, it is important that he has a shooting mentality, but it is possible to say that he has a slightly slow shooting form compared to the speed of sliding-based defenses in the NBA.

My second doubt is about his length. Garuba plays as a power forward-center. Although he has impressive strength and excellent athleticism, he doesn’t have the ideal length to be center. If he continues to have problems with shooting, playing as a center may seem like the most logical solution. But in this case, his length raises question marks in my head.

Garuba, who does great work in various kinds of passing compared to his age and position, does not have an elite court vision and handling ability (sometimes he has problems controlling the ball at first), but does good jobs on drive-and-kick, passes that create spacing around the nail.

On the defensive end, well, I don’t think there is anything that he cannot translate to the NBA level. His energy, BBIQ, body positioning, awareness, eye-hand coordination, leaping, lateral movement, quickness, sliding, tagging, blocking… He can guard every position with every trick. I will have more on this in the coming months.

Overall, Usman Garuba is an elite international pick. Because he is an outstanding defender, he has the potential to be better on the offensive end, and has good athleticism.

Alperen Şengün

  • Current Team: Besiktas
  • Nationality: Turkey
  • Position: Center
  • Height: 6’9’’
  • Draft rate: 3.5 stars

Alperen Şengün’s offensive game revolves around interior scoring. He is an excellent catch-and-finisher, does a pretty good job as a dunker spot man, makes a lot of money in low-post situations, and also can attack the basket from nail and wings very well.

Alperen Şengün’s elite offensive weapon is catch-and-finishing. A perfect complement to guards who have the drive and dish skills, Şengün almost makes no mistakes when he is close to the basket. He can finish with both hands, but he usually finishes better and more comfortably with his right hand. While finishing with one hand, he can move his opponent with other arm, shift his body weight and jump off two-feet, adjusting his angle perfectly, absorbing contact, using his length well, and if he needs it, he can use glass to score more comfortably.

Şengün is a smart finisher. When he takes the ball under/around the basket, first, he tries to understand how the defense is working. If there is a rotation from downhill, he goes to finish quickly by using his hips to avoid the rotation defense’s help. If there is help defense from the weak side, he can both give the pass to the weak side or can go to the basket dominantly. He has the ability to make the defender bite with half-jump and pump fakes. Şengün can finish shots in the air over the rim protectors or absorb the contact. One of the critical points here that he does not have a good, soft touch. It is not a highly important thing, because he has solid touch but adding some softness will allow him to play more comfortably in my opinion.

A warrior who can control his aggressiveness even when he reaches very high levels, Şengün sometimes can get confused against help defense, he cannot go over the help defense to the basket and turns it over. He has a little bit of smoothness but should work on it more.

Despite not being a slasher or an elite self-creator, Şengün has shown flashes where he goes to the basket from the nail or wings. While doing it, he gives eye/pass/a little burst fake, creates his drive to the basket angle, uses his strong first step, changes his direction on the ground (occasionally, does good job on euro step, little crossovers) and goes to the basket quickly. I think this part is one of the most important positive assets in his NBA projection.

Şengün is not someone who has perfect hooks, short jumpers, floaters, or runners. For this reason, he seems to be someone that defensive systems in the NBA can easily defend, but his ability to attack the basket as well as under the basket aggressiveness definitely increases his offensive potential. He can take the next step in this by adding reliability to his handle, balance to his dribbling and more elite athletic skills, and he can become a mini slasher in the 2-points area.

Şengün is a good scorer in post situations. He turns to the baseline side much faster and more efficiently than the free-throw line in both right and left post zones. He really has good hip mobility so when he turns to the baseline side, he has more space to use this. He’s a smart scorer in post situations. For example, when the defender pushes him shoulder to shoulder, Şengün turns quickly before the defender’s second shoulder push and dislodges the defender easily. On the finishing side, he shows pretty good wrist movement and solid touch but as I said, doesn’t have a good soft touch so he cannot finish things when he’s not close to the basket. Şengün has a long and strong drop step. He can see the court and if any teammates wait for the ball, he can make the pass.

He has good court vision, can see what happens in the team and can take his position smartly. He’s a smart off the ball scorer and, as I said, he is an excellent CnF and dunker spot targets. But Şengün also has the ability to cut to the basket from wings – curl, backdoor and flash. However, sometimes makes turnovers due to his lack of elite ballhandling.

Not an elite scorer in pick-and-roll situations. Sometimes, he does a pretty good job to attack the basket as a short roller but I don’t think he is good enough in PnRs.

Alperen Şengün’s NBA projection is limited for now because he is an inconsistent shooter, doesn’t have good athleticism tools and has room to grow physically. He is 18 years old and I think he can improve on these three basic deficiencies. But there are a lot of issues on the defense that he has to improve…

Actually, he has to work a lot in every defensive area except the above average rim protection. His opponents from all positions can easily dislodge him. Şengün gambles a lot in passing lanes, his feet are not firmly on the ground, he cannot absorb the physical movement of his opponent in low-post and high-post games.

He does not respect his opponent’s shot very much in closeout and risks his shot and sometimes focuses on the ball side when he actually has to defend his man in off the ball situations. He also turns back very slowly in the transition defense and breaks the rhythm of the team and allows too many easy points. I think the problem here is neither fully about focusing nor physical. It is likely a combination of lack of elite physical tools, defensive instincts, and high-motor in my opinion.

Ivica Zubac, Jusuf Nurkić and Ante Žižić are excellent examples for Şengün’s projection. Žižić did not stay in the NBA because he has not improved on athleticism and shooting, just an interior scorer. Zubac is an excellent rotation player thanks to his dunker spot efficiency and PnRs BBIQ, and also, above average defense. Nurkić is almost in his team’s “Big 3” because he can attack the basket, has good defensive tools, improved physically, and can play around the perimeter with decent shooting. Şengün is like Žižić for now but he is almost closest to be Zubac.

The best thing about Şengün’s NBA projection is that he is just 18 years old. He has time to improve on shooting and defense. And also, he is someone who is willing to work. So, he has potential, upside, and picking him in first to mid 2nd round will not hurt in my opinion. From there, defense, shooting consistency, physical improvements, and athleticism will determine his projection.

Noam Dovrat

  • Current Team: Maccabi Rishon
  • Nationality: Israel
  • Position: Guard
  • Height: 6’5’’
  • Draft rate: 2 stars

Despite hitting a lot of 3-pointers at FIBA events, Noam Dovrat does much of his best work on the offensive end as an attack the basket player. Especially last season (2019-2020), as he played with a point guard with high gravity effect, Alex Hamilton, Dovrat had a lot of space to attack the rim and he made good use of these areas. The right-handed Dovrat, does a nice job using change of tempo to get his defender off balance and attack the basket.

With solid touch around the rim, Noam Dovrat is not a prospect who can hit a lot of runners but he does a great job to find points with using the glass. Dovrat’s strong first step, good hip rotation, chest to chest fighting and change of direction ability on the ground make up for his athleticism.

Shooting is the most complicated thing on his offensive arsenal for me. I have a very simple reason: At FIBA events, Dovrat used a lot of threes and his percentages were not bad. However, in Israeli BSL and EuroCup both his volume and percentages were bad. So, I have serious issues about trusting his shot but he has potential. Because he showed that creating off the dribble, shooting off the catch.

Has good footwork and hip rotation on his shots but his elbow point is bad. Dovrat is very inconsistent with room to improve his shooting stroke because of that. The ball doesn’t come out smoothly every time, especially on his 3-point shot. I think his mid-range repertoire is enough for now. He can hit one/two dribble jumpers after a pretty nice hop. But I would like to see him more aggressive to use runners.

Average handle the ball ability. Has not any shifty things like deceptive/crafty/defensive/advanced/flashy ballhandling ability but he has not turnover prone. Creating his dribble channel thanks to his burst and change the tempo abilities, Noam Dovrat has enough skills to protect the ball in these free zones. Just like classical European guards.

Biggest improvement area on his offensive arsenal is that off the ball motions. If Dovrat playing around the corners, okay, that’s it, he will wait all 24 seconds without moves. He looks like asleep in these positions.

Noam Dovrat is not a menacing or hard-nosed defender but his defensive performance behind the 3-points line and general team awareness almost excellent.

Doing nice close outs, Noam Dovrat doesn’t have perfect quickness, lateral movement and pop but he is able to recover thanks to his good positioning on off ball motions. He does a good job running around screens and back into the play. The Israeli prospect does not make unnecessary help defenses and continues his off ball defense without leaving his man open, so if he needs to make a move for closeouts he can make it without breaking his team’s defense. Dovrat raises one hand in front of the shooters while holding the other down, to avoid a foul. He sometimes has a problem with agility against his opponent’s quick footwork, but thanks to his active hand coordination and good court vision he can make up for this. He can also react perfectly against shooters.

Yannick Kraag

  • Current Team: Joventut Badalona
  • Nationality: Netherlands
  • Position: Guard/Forward
  • Height: 6’7’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

An instinctual scorer who is aggressive looking to find ways to make things happen, Yannick Kraag’s offensive game is predicated on his ability to use his quickness with the ball to use wings channel, play as a cutter and force opponents to leave a cushion that gives him extra attack zone to get his shot off around the perimeter.

At the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship and 2018 FIBA U16 European Championship, his main scoring weapon was off-ball motions. In these two tournaments, he scored 48 points while playing as an off-ball player with 75% FG. In doing so, Kraag made excellent use of drives from the wings. He created a weakness on the opponent’s defenses with his burst and go-stop-go-stop techniques.

The Dutchman used his teammate’s screens well off the ball. When picked up the ball, Kraag finishes possessions sometimes after one-two dribble in three to four seconds, sometimes with a quick dunk or fluid athleticism. Running in transition well, Yannick Kraag can dribble open court and finishes positions with quickness. Also, he’s a good dribbler on half-court as a secondary ballhandler.

However, I think he has room to work on his handling & passing package and general on-ball offense. Kraag isn’t a bad handler or passer, but his passing and handling abilities are too casual. He can’t play as a handler or roller in pick-and-roll games. He needs weapons on his arsenal to improve his offensive game.

Shooting is a huge question mark… Yannick Kraag is a cold-blooded player. He has the mentality to shoot against pressure. He reads the game and makes a decision to use his shot. Kraag can create his shots in mid-range. He also has nice extension and release making it difficult for most players to contest or block his shot but his mechanics are inconsistent and not too smooth.

The lack of elite strength and athleticism hurts his defensive stock. He needs to work on his overall defensive performance but, there are some good signs.

Showing good reaction on the ball defensively, Kraag does a pretty nice job putting pressure on shooters. I think he isn’t a pesky defender in general but with his closeouts and eye-hand coordination, he is a decent pesky defender.

Kraag knows how to give bad angles to his opponent’s thanks to his BBIQ, lateral movement and body control. Showing a good stance, he is an aggressive defender and you can see his aggressiveness last summer.

However, that’s it. I think he needs to improve the rest of his defensive game. He has a great vertical pop but doesn’t use this to protect the rim consistently. He reads screens well but doesn’t run well around screens. Not switchable, not running through passing lanes well, has the ability to get steals on the ball on defense thanks to his quick hands and stance but he is not a deflection player; I think he needs a TON of work on his defense.

Juhann Bégarin

  • Current Team: Paris
  • Nationality: France
  • Position: Guard/Forward
  • Height: 6’6’’
  • Draft rate: 3.5 stars

Doing a bit of everything on the offensive end, the freakish athlete does his best contributions applying his physical tools in transition and on the offensive glass. Has all around self-creation package, Juhann has a perfect lob threat and can move very fast with the ball and do dominant dunks when playing on the ball offense in hill or transition. His first step is strong and solid, giving him momentum. Bégarin can create a shield around the ball while changing direction both in the air and on the ground. He can play above the rim, finish in traffic, and he knows how to show some tricks like hooks, reverse spins, hip fakes alongside his footwork. But there is a question mark in my head. Bégarin has a dazzling athlectisim package, but when the game is played at a slow pace in the half-court, he has trouble getting past his opponent with the dribble. He’s not losing the ball, but forcing the game and staying behind in some contact positions is a huge question mark. I mean, Bégarin becomes an ineffective player when he can’t find momentum and plays at a slow pace. Also, he is not an off the ball slasher/cutter.

The biggest thing I haven’t said anything clear about it is his shooting. Bégarin was a good shooter in 2018. His volume was average but his hit rate was high, but he was a bad shooter in every sense in 2019. He has occasional showed good things as a catch-and-shooter, but the lack of smoothness, solidness, and weird set point hurt his consistency in my opinion. Bégarin is able to create his shot around mid-range, and he has shown he can do well with one dribble pull-up shot, but he has general inconsistency. He has room on that.

Bégarin’s BBIQ, high-level motor, and athlectisim package make up for his lack of elite man-on-man defensive plays in my opinion. Bégarin sees actions early to help, running through passing lanes well with good timing, showing great active and coordinated eye-hand sequences. With a decent defensive stance and potential switchability, Bégarin is fearless on the ball defender. He can stay in front of against guards thanks to his quick hands, can stay in front of against forwards, and stretch bigs thanks to his elite athlectisim and good size. However, at the end of the day, he has room to be consistent on the ball defender in my opinion. The explosive player showed some flashes put pressure on shooters both catch-and-shoot and self-creating shoot situations but can’t guarding those players on the dribble, floater, and Pick’n Roll games. Lack of balance and experience hurt his stock here. Yes, Bégarin has a good experience thanks to his adventures on LNB pro leagues, but he is just an 18 years-old player, so, still improving process. A shot-blocking presence on the ball and/or as a help-side defender. Good off the ball defender thanks to his quickness and linear, lateral, vertical pop moves. Good transition defender with wide steps, court vision, and quick moves. Average team defender in my opinion. Bégarin is not a defensive playmaker or like that but knows how to rotate to protect the defensive shield of the team. Not a great defender on closeouts, sometimes give bad reacts, very bad reacts against pump fakes. Knows close his opponent’s rim angle but can’t do it consistently. A quick jumper and an engaged and competitive rebounder, Bégarin pursues the ball with energy, especially on the offensive end.

Augustas Marčiulionis

  • Current Team: Rytas
  • Nationality: Lithuania
  • Position: Guard
  • Height: 6’4’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

Playing as a facilitator and primary ballhandler, the most important weapon of the Marčiulionis’ offensive arsenal is his ability to make plays, which is catalyzed by impressive passing, handling, dribbling, game feel, and court vision.

Having various styles of passing, Marčiulionis does the best job as a passer in drive-and-kick and drive-and-dish situations. Although Marčiulionis doesn’t have the strength he should have physically, he doesn’t hesitate to get into the traffic. While he creates his main difference as a passer, he uses the change of speed, changing direction, and stopping tricks very well. About his change of speed, he really does a good job changing step length. He doesn’t have much of the leg strength, which is one of the fundamentals of changing direction, but his high degree of coordination, good body balance, and proper footwork allow him to create drive-and-kick and drive-and-dish possessions (also zero-step). So, he can change direction with efficient footwork often be able to beat an opponent who is faster than him.

He doesn’t do a good job on one-count stop but almost impossible to stop his two-count stop around the basket. In this case, he initially focuses on the first foot to land, with the knee bent in order to stop forward momentum. As the other foot touches the floor, he transfers the weight so that it is even between the two feet.

After doing all these and preparing the pass angle, the 18-year-old son of the Lithuanian legend can make facilitating passes to both the weak-side of the defense and the strong-sides where there is traffic. As he passes the strong-side, he pushes his opponent with his whole body, providing better mini-spacing for his catch-and-finish scorer. He is very comfortable to make the pass on one-handed or two-handed. AM can make the pass easily with both of his hands. Marčiulionis also does a really good job at keeping his head up and knowing where his teammates are filling the lanes in transition. So, he is someone who makes advanced reads or manipulates the defense with fakes, handle, etc. My only question about his passing ability revolves around his self-confidence. While watching Augustas Marčiulionis, I have often seen him pass by heart. Passing by heart can sometimes lead to perfect sequences, but most of the turnover he has done so far this season is due to rote passing. He gives passes on lobs and some swing passes without paying attention to acceleration, angle, and timing, which is very easy to predict by the defense.

Dribbling speed and intensity and showing freakish good court vision. In the sequence, Marčiulionis actually was ready to make the pass to the right-cutter but he saw that the all defensive line going to that zone. Then, he changes his direction with impressive ballhandling and goes to the basket) occasionally and solid court vision always, his finishing skill-set also revolves around his dribble penetration.

Taking a smart decision to shoot the ball, Marčiulionis still improves on this ability. Basically, the shot form seems to be fluent enough in every sense. Has quickness to alignment his knees, able to bend the hips and knees in coordination at the right angles and momentum, transfer energy from the lower body to the upper body but how strong this transfer is questionable, loading time is decent, above the head release with consistent elbow points and shot pocket, good arc on the shoulders, has a pretty soft touch from left-hand, good touching in the air with right-hand, and coordination. However, there are two bad habits: the heels aren’t always on the ground (in positions that he should have to step on) and he bends the hips too much in the shots he uses as a creator, both of which are negative things that lower the efficiency of his shooting form.

Although Marčiulionis’ averages on the defensive end seem (0.54 PPP) quite impressive, I don’t think he is an elite defender. However, being an average defender for a player who has strength problems is pretty good in my opinion.

I think he does his best job on the defensive end in pick-and-roll situations. Marčiulionis in Rytas’ system, which usually prefers drop against the pick-and-roll offense, does a pretty good job of using hip mobility and hop when adjusting the drop position. He usually leaves the baseline side open to the offense, on which side Rytas’ forwards that are suitable for sliding step in and stop the handler. In the general PnR defense, Marčiulionis, after sliding around the screen, usually puts his right foot back and pushes his left foot forward, putting pressure on the handler, but this is a big gamble. Because after a couple of times, the handler realizes that Marčiulionis has this habit, so the handler can use footwork tricks to neutralize Marčiulionis’ defense in every PnR attack played against him. Marčiulionis, who can barely slide around screens, sometimes focuses so much on where the screener will come from, leaving the handler free…

Ąžuolas Tubelis

  • Current Team: Arizona
  • Nationality: Lithuania
  • Position: Power forward/Center
  • Height: 6’9’’
  • Draft rate: 3.5 stars

One of Lithuania’s valuable names in the 2000 generations, Tubelis was one of the Europeans who changed continents during the summer of 2020.

The Lithuanian native, who has very good size and length for his age, can make impact both sides of the court by using his physical tools effectively. He can make money by blending his strong frame and good length around the rim with solid touch, average leaping, and strong drives if he needs it. While he can finish in traffic, he can do reliable things as a catch-and-finish scorer.

It would not be correct to describe Tubelis as an elite passer, handler, or dribbler, but nevertheless, his post passing, quick passes from inside to outside the 3-points line, ability to drive with the ball above-average speed, and body coordination are pretty important assets. He can also take the ball coast to coast and finish above the rim or with a running layup.

The shooting form has been developing for the last 3.5 years, but there are still issues that need to be improved and consistent. It’s impossible to describe him as a clear floor spacer right now.

On the defensive end, he is pretty good at various types of defense. He does pretty good jobs of sliding under the basket, knows the angles, can use his impressive physical tools to pressure the offense. He can be scrambled by the handler sometimes, but not always. Good post-up defender, and knows how to protect the basket with his length. Impressive rebounder. Active on off-ball.

Boris Tišma

  • Current Team: Real Madrid
  • Nationality: Croatia
  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 6’9’’
  • Draft rate: 3 stars

Tišma’s game mostly revolves around spotting up for the 3-pointer/mid-range, pick-and-roll handler as a physical and aggressive scorer and finds buckets as an off-ball motion player. He is not a shooter who can create his shot consistently but showed it 11 times this at the 2018 FIBA U16 European Championship. He usually hit the 3-pointers from the left corner and left-wing as a spot-up shooter. Has a smooth shooting mechanics, Tišma’s release, timing, confidence, quickness and footwork are great. However, he needs mentality, balance, angle and court vision as a shooter. I mean, sometimes he tries unnecessary shots. Balance, angle, and court vision are almost absent in those shots. Tišma has confidence and consistency, but if he wants to be a dangerous shooter at top levels, I think has to have a smart shooting mentality without showing his opponent a defect. On the other hand about his shooting, needs to improve the short-range. I mean, he does not have last soft touch and elite athlectisim tools — as I said. He knows how to create short-range shots but can’t finish because of a lack of last touch. The Croatian prospect can score in the post, showing nice spin moves and hooks. As a post player, he usually attacks from the left side of the court. A great cutter — backdoor cuts, ATOs, side out of bounds plays and slips — showing nice offensive awarenesses, knows how to create spacing as a cutter and often finishes aggressively around the basket. He has a lot of room to be a good transition player. He has quickness, showed some dunks, also, showed trailer plays but not too much.

Tišma drives to his left better than his right. He has a slow but powerful first step. As a pick-and-roll handler, I think Tišma knows to give screen fakes against his opponents. I mean, he is not a classical PnR handler, thanks to his length and great handling for his length, Tišma uses the screen, drives in the free channel and finishes around the basket aggressively. In my opinion, he needs a lot of things on his passing package. I know, usually, you don’t wait for a good passing package from a 6-foot-9 player, but considering Tišma’s game features, I think he has to be better at passing. Because in this way, he may evaluate his gravity effect not only as a scorer but also in every sense.

When I think of players born between 2000 and 2004, Boris Tišma is one of the most interesting players in the defense pack based on his physical tools. I mean, you expect someone who is 6-foot-9 to have a good defense around the rim, read the pick-and-rolls well, and play with explosion but Tišma puts pressure on shooters like 6-foot-4 guards and follows his man perfectly in off-ball motions. However, he is not good against quick guards, also not a good defender around the rim. In my opinion, his mobility, length, lateral quickness, BBIQ (reads and reacts) and defensive awareness like offense allows him to be a good defender against shooters who covers pick and roll situations well.

In off-ball motions, after running around the screens with good timing and speed, he uses his hand length and BBIQ to cover the angle of the shooters and does pesky defense. He puts good timing pressure on the roller in pick-and-roll games, but after a minor mistake, he faces the handler and cannot defend him. He is good laterally but can improve his footwork to stay in front of quicker guards. His good length helps him play passing lanes aggressively. Despite not afraid of physical contact, Tišma is not a good rim protector. I think lack of elite vertical pop and strength hurt him here. As a competitive rebounder, Tišma pursues the ball with energy. Thanks to his good eye-hand coordination, Tišma sees something and moves on that well. I would like to see him around the hill as a defender because I think he can be more efficient there.

Ibou Badji

  • Current Team: Barcelona
  • Nationality: Senegal
  • Position: Center
  • Height: 7’1’’
  • Draft rate: 3.5 stars

Showing his major impact on the offensive end as a dunker spot man, catch-and-finish scorer, or lob target, Ibou Badji is a limited offensive player in my opinion. Although his physical tools show at first glance that he can be an effective post scorer, Badji has huge issues with even the simplest post-up techniques. He needs to be much more patient and he definitely has to improve his technical knowledge. In pick-and-roll situations, he will likely be a roll threat Thanks to his athleticism it’s really hard to tag him. However, I cannot see much deep value here. Because he is unable to dribble the ball. He has shown flashes to the basket after a short roll, but he lacks a degree of decision-making mechanism can be the reason why he gets scrambled sometimes. However, with his vertical pop and strong frame, there is a reason to think he can be a good lob-threat in pick-and-roll situations but finding that angle every time can be hard. Badji loads quickly into his leaping and has great length. He is not effective in wing pick-and-roll games, usually makes his money from the top of the key with right-rolling. As just a screener, Badji knows how to sets up his footwork to close all angles of the defense. His outstanding frame helps him here of course. There are two main reasons why he is not an effective scorer in pick-and-roll situations. First, he does not have good hip mobility, so it cannot roll out to disturb the defense. Second, he does not have good touch around the basket, which is also one of two major problems about his NBA projection. Badji has actually shown that he can be a smart finisher occasionally. For example, last year against Khalifa Diop and Reggie Perry in some positions he used his body as a shield to protect the ball, and then he was able to finish the position. So he can finish in the paint but is currently reliant on his athleticism to finish with dunks and lobs and not actually touch. Badji tries dunking when he gets a chance with good popping. He also has a good second jump and effective offensive rebounder with timing, and length. He can be get scrambled in traffic sometimes but has shown flashes of powerful dunks and shown some skills to finish through light contact. Although Badji knows where and when to go in off the ball motions,  it should not be forgotten that he does not have a natural touch. So, he can have plenty of easy misses, which can make him a Shaqtin’ A Fool candidate.

Despite not having enough efficient weapons on the offensive end, the most important reason why Ibou Badji is currently seen as an NBA prospect is based on his physical tools. Another asset that he has revolves around his defensive performance. Ibou Badji is an elite shot blocker and a very good rim protector in my opinion. The Senegalese big man has good timing when contesting shots in the paint or around the nail. He has impressive quickness off the floor, and knows how to use his wingspan to close all angles of the offense. He can sometimes be a too-block-focused defender, which is bad. Because if the offense understands that Badji will jump to make a block, can change the direction of the ball and goes for an easy layup. However, to do this the offense needs to be a master finisher. Because it’s hard to dislodge a rim protector who has a 240-pound strong frame. He has every type of block with great athleticism, especially, explosiveness. For a player who has not excellent fundamentally, Ibou Badji can be a good post defender at the NBA level. He uses his lower body as leverage to contest the post offense. While his opponent is in the back-to-the-basket position, Badji bends his knees well and does not give his opponent a possible face-up chance, disrupting his opponent’s attacking rhythm with the good timed moves and surprising harmony of hand-eye coordination (because he cannot show this too much on the offense). However, if there is a face-up situation in the post, Badji sometimes becomes unnecessarily aggressive and completely disrupts his stance, giving his opponent free space. In general, he does a great job using his length to contest shots in the post situations.

His ability to make the block is the first reason why I think he is an elite defender. However, his defensive effort in pick-and-roll situations is also a PRETTY good asset. In today’s basketball, big men, whose length and strength are at perfect levels, can be heavy in the pick-and-roll defense and are very ineffective in defense styles such as aggressive drop, deep drop, ICE, blitz, tag, sink-and-fill, recovery, etc. And actually, this is quite natural, because the quickness level of these players is often not good for making these defenses efficient enough. However, Badji does an unexpectedly good job in the pick-and-roll defense compared to his physical tools. He does excellent jobs on drop coverage, getting high on the blitz, displacing the ballhandler’s driving space forcing him higher than he wants to go, and gets back to his man quickly in the paint. While he getting back to his man, he uses his wingspan to close the ballhandler’s passing angle to center. I should add that he can get a bit lazy sometimes when getting to his man. About off the ball pick-and-roll defense, Badji does good jobs on tagging and recovery to his man again. It’s pretty important that he is able to show his body while tagging. Because by doing it, Badji also closes a possible flare/shallow/UCLA cut ways.

Ariel Hukporti

  • Current Team: Nevėžis
  • Nationality: Germany
  • Position: Center
  • Height: 7’0’’
  • Draft rate: 4 stars

A dominant presence inside, Ariel Hukporti is an elite lob target who also plays very well in the post. When he gets the ball in the painted area, he can decide in a short time, using his powerful first step, elite vertical pop, soft touch, and ability to change direction in the air while fluidly curving into the basket. Also, he can produce miscellaneous points in bunches when he’s dialed in. As a brutal post scorer, he is an excellent low-post scorer. He can do post moves like Embiid, draw foul while curling into the basket after the body coordination fake against his defender, he is not afraid of contact play, wants contact play, plays with aggression and physicality. His left step isn’t perfect, but his right step great; knows how to gain momentum. He can also take a step back while in post and create his own mid-range shot, but he’s not consistent. When he plays against a physical defender, he pushes positions too much, losing momentum for both his team and himself. There are also redundancies in these mid-range shots he tried. He uses mid-range shots that make his team lose rhythm in positions where he can pass very easily. I think he has to improve in this regard. It is nice that he is not afraid to play against pressure but the skill-set is not yet elite levels for that. The German prospect is unable to shield around the ball and lacks elite ballhandling, so he makes simple turnovers. Good on face-up play thanks to his combination of physical tools and aggressiveness but needs to improve his back-to-the-basket plays beside post. He showed some things on off-ball situations as a reliable, active catch and finish target and productive offensive rebounder. Good trailer in transitions as I mentioned. He’s not a passer, but he showed some things on as a read&reacts passer but for now, has a lot of room to create for others with using his gravity. He doesn’t have any deep-range or mid-range threat.

Hukporti showed some flashes to switch onto guards but he does his best job as a rim protector. With all the tools to be an elite defender, is a factor in the passing lanes, active on the glass and energetic as a rim protector. In my opinion, he is a smart team defender. He does a good job talking for his teammates if they are caught on a pick for a perimeter player going hill or along the perimeter. He knows the team defense rules like switching, timing … Does a pretty nice job on post defense. He reads his opponent game and reacts well to that. The German prospect is an average PnR defender. I think his game reading and wingspan help him to guard handler with quick hands, average lateral quickness and timing. He sometimes showed that his opponent was able to close dribble and shooting angles. Also, his active hands help him to get in the handler’s passing line. However, he can sometimes open too much, I mean, giving a dribble channel to the rim for the handler or roller. Needs to learn a balanced defense. I think his explosiveness gives him too energy, it’s good, but for the team defense, he has to play with synchronization.

Khalifa Diop

  • Current Team: Gran Canaria
  • Nationality: Senegal
  • Position: Center
  • Height: 6’11’’
  • Draft rate: 4 stars

Khalifa Diop has tremendous size for an 18-year old center at 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and an improved 235-pound frame. A dominant presence inside, Diop is a great elite lob target but also he is a great catch-and-finishing and dunker-spot scorer in my opinion. Has the interior strength to battle other power forwards in the post, Khalifa showed pretty nice footwork on his post games. After taking the ball, Diop using his footwork, quick hips, and lateral movement to buckets, also, showed that he has BBIQ. I mean, he knows how to using pump, body, or eye fakes to create his hook spacing in the post in my opinion. As a catch-and-finisher, he has nice elevation from low to high in my opinion. I think that Diop has versatile rolling weapons: Roll-replace, flare, drag, early, late, pindown, stagger, chin line, SLOB target with great rolling timing, soft touch around the basket, ability to finish these rolling positions one or two hands, and one or two feet. As a shooter, he has a lot of room to get better. Showed nice flashes around the mid-range with a solid release, good timing, and vertical pop but it does not create any plus in my opinion. Has to add some 3-pointer threat on his own offensive arsenal in my opinion because Diop is not a great dunker-spot scorer like Ivica Zubac and not a great athlete like Sekou Doumbouya, Clint Capela. So if he wants to play consistently in the NBA, has to add at least one of these skills. Read-and-react passer, has high awareness on the offensive end, reliable downhill ballhandler, and has average court vision.

Looking great on the defensive end, Khalifa Diop’s physical tools, timing, and effort-level make him a good shot blocker, rim protector but also showed that he can defend in the post with using his BBIQ (sees his man’s footwork well, so, preparing his own stance with great reacts, has active and quick hands), solid stance, and length in my opinion. Showing pretty nice mobility stepping out to slide around the perimeter, fighting for position around the basket, and using verticality well on occasion, Diop’s defensive awareness is good. He sees things early and talking with his teammates to block the passing lanes, block the opponent’s trick offense. Not a great off the ball motions, switch, and transition defender in my opinion. Knows how to switching but lack of elite body defensively, and lack of elite footwork against quick players hurt his stock here in my opinion. I think Diop has the potential to be a pesky defender on shooters thanks to his vertical pop and length but needs to learn runs around the screens with good timing. I think Diop is not an excellent rebounder, but average on both ends.

Matthew Strazel

  • Current Team: ASVEL
  • Nationality: France
  • Position: Guard
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

Strazel has a lot of room to improve physically. He has a great offensive package. He is creative, has the ability to change direction, can control the tempo, has intelligence in his passes and his handle is good. Strazel is a good finisher. Soft touch, pretty nice body control and flashes some craftiness around the rim. He can finish with either hand but it is not consistent. Strazel does not take contact that well around the rim, he does a great job keeping the ball away/shielding the ball from his man on drives. He does not have much pop in the paint and jumps out more than up. Good shooter but should add some decision-making mechanism and a little bit faster loading time. Strazel is a crafty passer. He may not make elite reads, but he makes high level smart ones that put teammates in the best position to attack but I think he is not good PnR passer. He forced some passes.

It is natural for a player who plays at the higher levels at the age of 18 and who has physically big cons to create great weakness in defense. However, I think Strazel is pretty good defender despite his lack of elite physical tools. Strazel solid PnR defender. He flashes pretty nice footwork at the top with two plant, three-step technique and is quick over when there is a slip or enough space. However, he is prone to relaxing at the point of offense when Strazel thinks the handler is about to attack, leading to driving or pocket pass lanes for the ballhandler. He does an impressive job getting through picks and getting back into the game, even when screened off slightly from his trailing position. However, sometimes he gets the fake fast. Strazel also needs work on his closeouts.

Leo Menalo

  • Current Team: Stella Azzurra
  • Nationality: Croatia
  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 6’9’’
  • Draft rate: 2.5 stars

Leo Menalo is a smooth athlete who can play above the rim, finish in traffic, change direction both on the ground and in the air, has inside hand finishing ability and can go up and catch lobs smoothly. I don’t think he is an excellent explosive athlete but he can dunk in empty spaces.

With a quick jump, Menalo is a consistent finisher around the rim. He can finish with both hands, using his length well on finishes. For example, when he dribbles the ball against his defender, Menalo changes his direction after a nice hop, uses a strong first step, shifts his weight to the defender and uses his hips to create his left/right layup angle. He jumps nicely, using his wide shoulders and finishing with his right hand while using his left hand to avoid block. If his opponent is around 6-foot-8 or more, he usually uses the glass very well. So, he is also a smart finisher.

Leo Menalo’s shooting ability is questionable. He’s not a player who can force it consistently, so he can take unnecessary 3-points/2-points shots. But his volume is too low. He showed potential as a jump shooter, with the skill to create separation off the dribble and make spot-up 3-pointers. However, he is inconsistent and I think the biggest reason is his knee position. His kneecaps are very close, it looks like they are stuck. His elbow and body looks good but his knee positions have a bad effect on his shooting form, Menalo can’t gain momentum from his lower body because of that. I really hope that he will change his shooting form in Rome.

Besides shooting, I have some concerns about Menalo’s handling and passing abilities. He is not a player who can set up/run the offense, he is just a read and react passer but the good thing here is that his team awareness is good. He talks with his teammates but when he has to take action, this role is not fit for him. From the handling side, Menalo can protect the ball thanks to his body but when he waits under the basket with the ball, turnover coming up. Needs some consistency and quickness.

Nice pick-and-roll potential as a roller. He plays with solid pace, shows skills to manipulate the opponent’s defensive shape, can roll very well in side PnRs. Despite not having elite shooting threat, his pick-and-pop threat is here. So, if Menalo can shoot 2.2/5 per game, good things will happen.

Knows how to rotate, slide around the perimeter, talk on defense, Menalo does good job keeping his hands out, tagging rollers and/or cutters off the ball motions, protect the rim and cover the pick-and-roll. In my opinion, he does a little bit of everything on the defensive end, except make something on shooters.

The best thing he does on the defensive end is guarding face-up situations. Despite his lack of quickness, he has nice hip turns and body coordination. Menalo uses his length, active hands, refined footwork, and solid stance.

Covering the pick-and-roll situations well thanks to his game reading ability but he needs work here. He struggles in keeping up against quicker point guards but doesn’t have this problem guarding forwards.

Menalo does a great job closing out. His good timing on reactions makes him a good closeout defender in my opinion. He does not have great athleticism tools in terms of smoothness or popping when getting out to shooters but his coordination and motor help him here.

I trust him as an off-ball motion defender. I think that he knows how to run around the screens very well, also, knows how to react quickly and correctly to a possible opponent’s fake set well.

The biggest areas for improvement (despite some flashes) about his defense is pressuring shooters when he plays one-on-one and rebounding. Despite being 6-foot-9, Menalo’s rebounding skill is bad for his size and position. He does need work here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top